'Enjoy, but app sparingly'

'Enjoy, but app sparingly'

Searching for balance in a digital society

Digitization offers us many great things, but do we ever consider the drawbacks? Not often enough, according to the CEO of VodafoneZiggo. During the DigiDiner he entered into a dialogue with dozens of representatives of large companies, start-ups, media, social organizations and universities.

Digital balance was the main theme of the gathering which VodafoneZiggo organized in July, in Amsterdam. "The convenience of being connected to everybody, is fantastic. But there is a downside, too", says Jeroen Hoencamp, CEO VodafoneZiggo. "Forty percent of young people apparently experience stress due to being online all the time. It’s something we cannot close our eyes to."

No wagging finger
"VodafoneZiggo feels a huge responsibility in this matter", says Jeroen. "That is why we think it’s important to increase awareness and enter into a discussion. Not in a pedantic tone, wagging our finger, but with an open, realistic view. Our goal is not just offering telecom and media. We want to bring enjoyment and progress with every connection, for companies as well as consumers."

Digitization requires etiquette
The discussions during the DigiDiner proved that awareness should be high on the agenda. It also became apparent that digitization requires etiquette. During the evening the participants became creative in small groups to tackle possible solutions. This resulted in dozens of ideas that were discussed and assessed one by one. Plans emerged to develop a ‘wheel of principles’, a digital driver’s licence and a set of etiquette rules. Which of these ideas will be adopted by VodafoneZiggo, will be announced later.

Drifting apart
Jeroen emphasizes that VodafoneZiggo is always eager to cooperate. "We cannot do it alone. That is why we keep the conversation alive. Earlier this year we had a visit from the Kids Council and we asked them what we could do to help them deal with internet and mobile phones in a conscious way. They came up with a surprising answer. They said: "It’s not just us, but also our parents who are constantly looking at their phone. Telling us they are busy working, but they aren’t. We might want to play a game sometimes, don’t we?" Media were once designed to bring people together, but now we see that they sometimes cause people to drift apart. I’m not saying there is one solution only, the point is that you need to start a discussion together."

People and bees
Inspiration for these talks came from artist Koen van Mensvoort. For years, a leitmotiv in his work has been the question where humans and nature will all end. "24 billion years ago, earth was a biosphere. Human interaction has made it into a technosphere. And this evolution is continuing. The entire world around us has already been shaped and designed. We have become one with technology. Like the bees that look after the evolution of flowers, we look after the evolution of technology. And like fish that don’t realize it’s wet, we are swimming in a technological environment. It’s now up to us to balance biology and technology. For it’s all happening on one and the same globe, our earth."

Yearning for the future was the theme of the speech delivered by Bas Verhart of DFFRNT Media. Verhart explains: "As organization we want to do something. Looking back, you could say that the future has always been among us. If you look closely enough, our future is already here. The question is what the future looks like. How can you enter that future? It’s not about being for or against, we are interested to learn about different perspectives."

The Future Society
VodafoneZiggo and DFFRNT are founders of the project The Future Society. This group of inspiring experts from various corners of our society organizes interactive sessions about the role technology plays in our lives. Now, but especially in future. According to Verhart The Future Society knows two aspects: future society and the group of people that gathers to talk about it. "We will be sharing interesting backgrounds about the possibilities of technology ánd the personal side of it. After all, as professionals we also have the responsibility to think about ordinary issues, like stress and protection. We want to make both innovative and sensitive matters a subject of discussion."