Amsterdam the global village
We share our home with people from across the globe. It isn’t always easy to find your place in the city. Despite the astonishing array of things to do and people to meet, many find it hard to settle in and find new friends. You wouldn’t believe it from the lively terraces and overflowing beer cafes, from the music and museums, the markets and festival. For many, however, Amsterdam can be a lonely place.
And it needn’t be.
Loneliness in Amsterdam
Loneliness has a tendency to exacerbate itself. It tells us to shut ourselves away and to be ashamed of the fact that we are lonely. This is in no small part a result of our lives being lived increasingly online. We are shown a constant series of the images people wish to portray of themselves. Of them having fun, with beautiful friends in exciting places, and doing impressive feats. We don’t see what people’s lives are really like, and that creates unreasonable expectations of what we ought to be doing.
On the one hand, it is important to recognise that sadness and loneliness are normal parts of the spectrum of emotion, and important elements of human experience. On the other, there comes a time when we need to do something about it.
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Stuck in a rut
It’s not just those new in a city or experiencing loneliness who are victims of our online culture. People who have lived somewhere all their lives and have a group of friends they love can still find themselves feeling isolated. It is important both to enjoy one’s comfort zone and to break out of it every once in a while. It’s important to remind oneself of quite how many new people to meet and new things to do there are. To do so can have an extraordinary effect on well being, and bring us back to an awareness of who we are.
The internet: friend or foe?
The internet is a double edged sword. It both connects us with an unprecedented number of people, yet disconnects us from the interactions that make those relationships worthwhile. Problems start when our relationships are relocated to online platforms. Our brain’s chemistry distinguishes little between an online and an offline encounters. A ‘like’ from a friend is not so different from a smile from the same person when it comes to dopamine. We learn to crave the quick fix. It addicts and consumes us.
But when the internet creates opportunities for meeting people offline – when it is the vehicle rather than the substitute for human interaction – its potential is vast for counteracting the damage done by living on social media. Okay, so it takes a little more effort than just opening up an app on our phones. But the reward we gain dwarfs the little chemical hit we’d get from a buzz in our pocket. The reward is true, organic, human contact. It is conversation, and sharing in something we love. It is the handshakes at the start and the hugs at the end. Above all it is shared experience and the stories we gain.
To read more about what we’re creating at Authentic Days, have a glance through this.
Creating Activities, Crafting a Community
There’s a type of person we particularly admire. They ignore fear, and let self-belief lead the way. These are brave, curious people, who love to make things happen. They won’t wait until someone else does it, but do it themselves.
These are the people who put themselves out there and create events, open to total strangers, from across the city. Think about it – it’s a bit daunting. At least at first. But you quickly realise that strangers are just other people, with their own stories to tell, their own passions and aspirations.
We admire these people. This led us on a search for those whose curiosity for the world and their fellow Amsterdammers turned them into creators. They create communities, they welcome strangers, and they have a profound impact on people’s lives. These are their stories.