Many of the younger people can’t imagine a life without Internet. As a teenager I had several penpals as I was curious to get to know about people of my age living in other countries. I was already in my early 20s when I first met with an invention that would change my life for the better and for worse: Internet. I have seen the start of the online royalty community. At the time if you didn’t get along, you simply tried to avoid each other, and if that didn’t work, at least tried to keep polite.
Over the past years the community of people interested in royalty has grown, but has also changed. Internet has changed into a community where people can just say everything they want and be rude, something they very likely wouldn’t do in daily life. I wonder if some people really think before posting or just post everything that comes to mind, whether polite or plain rude. Sexism, discrimination, attacks are quite normal in today’s Internet. Something that is quite regrettable, as I also know how great the Internet can be.
In the old days one depended on books, newspapers and magazines for information about royals. Nowadays you just have to go online and find what you need … or not, as there is an overload on information that most people really don’t need. Old stories are repeated all over the place, which to my opinion could even harm royals and possibly even monarchies. It is also the place to be when you want to exchange or share information with others.
I am online most of the day, although if I am not home I really don’t need to go online all the time, unless it is work-related. Speaking about work: if there was no Internet I was certainly not doing the job I have nowadays. As a royalty-journalist working for a foreign press agency the Internet is absolutely a necessary place. I work in an online database, find most news online, receive my emails. To contact my colleagues I don’t need to use the phone like I would have in the pre-Internet days.
Although the online royalty community is changing all the time, also lots of people have been around for many years. I met my oldest Internet friends and acquaintances at least 20 years ago. While others just come and go, a certain group that is really interested in royals, remains. Some people I am hardly in touch with, but have been around forever. Other people I got to know better over the years and sometimes even regularly get in touch with. I also met many new people over the years.
It is a wonderful thing being able to discuss the thing you’re interested in – in this case royalty – with other people with the same interest. It doesn’t mean that we all like the same topics, the same royals. Some love a specific royal, others only a specific family, or they’re interested in castles, royal fashion or jewelry, or only in history. We don’t always have the same opinion, but most of us do respect each other and each others knowledge. Some do simply know more and there is always something new to learn.
I keep in touch with a few hundreds of people via social media. I have Facebook and Twitter and am a relatively new Instagram user, have a website and a blog. I use my personal Facebook account mainly for personal things and to keep in touch with friends, some colleagues and acquaintances. I am not letting everybody in. On the other hand NettyRoyal has its own Facebook-site and everybody can become a member and engage in discussions if they wish to. I haven’t blocked anybody there yet, but I would if people would become really unfriendly. Twitter is another story, as that is the place I really meet most rude people. Some trolls even manage to ruin the joy people get from royalty watching. It is also the easiest place to block people and if it weren’t for a few friends being engaged in nasty discussions once in a while I would hardly notice the bad world out there.
In the past I actually placed an advertisement in the Dutch royalty magazine “Vorsten” to get in touch with royalty watchers my age. I still have a few contacts from that time and one of them also helped me setting up my website back in October 1998. It was however not until I went online that I met much more other people interested in the subject. I still find it amazing as in pre-Internet times it was so difficult to get to know other people. As a teenager I thought I was the odd one out with a hobby that wasn’t really fashionable peers. Internet learnt me I am not the only one and that liking royalty actually can even be cool.
I know lots of people who met online, met in person and became good friends. I am also still very grateful for meeting many wonderful people online. If possible I’ve been meeting up with people. Nothing is more fun than to do something together with someone who understands that you spend more time in a castle or palace than the regular visitor. Nothing is more fun than going to an event together and watch the royals in reality. It is also lovely attending royalty weekends and meet up with people of all ages (most of the time older than I am) and talk about royals. Oh yes, it is also quite handy that there are people around to take the pictures that actually have you on it. My parents always complain there are hardly pictures of myself when I go somewhere … but when you go alone you often have to ask someone.
Over the years I have met people from all over the world I knew from the Internet in person. Many are from the Netherlands, others from other mainly European countries, sometimes even people from elsewhere. Some are just regular royalty watchers, while others are more professionally involved. I am glad to call them my acquaintances and friends: Anuschka, Arjan, Arturo, Bearn, Christine, Daphne, David, Elise, Els, Eric, Gabi, Hein, Henriëtte, John, Jolanda, Joris, Kaija, Linda, Marianne, Margret, Mark, Marlene, Martijn, Martin, Mirjam, Mo, Monica, Nellie, Patric, Paul, Sofia, Sophie, Stefan, Stig, Sue, Svenja, Ted, Ulrike, Yaroslava and many others.
I wished that nowadays many more people would understand that it is much more wonderful to take part in an online community in which people respect each other and say #HelloToKindness. Make the online world a better and safer place!