German Chancellor Angela Merkel faced a viral wave of online derision following her comments to US President Barack Obama that the Internet was ‘Neuland’ (new, or ‘uncharted’ territory) “for all of us.”
A few minutes after her speech, discussions exploded across the
“Did she really just say that?” German-language twitter users asked incredulously, shortly followed by thousands of mocking attacks and ridiculous pictures. Her casual mention of ‘Neuland’ quickly ‘trended,’ becoming the most discussed subject in the German Twittersphere.
One German language tweet read that “Little Angela would like
to be picked up from #Neuland,” with others being prompted to
locate the mythical place. A few users identified its
existence as being near the northern city of Hamburg.
The somewhat now double-named ‘Neuland Internet’ Twitter account
also sprang up, making declarations that “When I grow up I
want to be Chancellor of #Neuland,” and “It is great that
the #NSA carried out inspections across #Neuland.” The idea
of Neuland being ‘unchartered territory’ led a further Tweeter to
compare Internet users' situation to “something like the
Indians must have felt when Columbus discovered the ‘new
Dieser Tag wird in die Geschichte eingehen. Deutschland, 19.06.2013: Merkel entdeckt #Neuland.— Dominik (@D_Mikami) June 19, 2013
“This day will go down in history. Germany, 19.06.2013: Merkel
discovered #new territory.”
One of the most striking comparisons is Merkel to the character
Jen in the UK Comedy ‘The IT crowd’ who is so oblivious that her
colleagues manage to trick her into believing that the Internet
takes on the form of a small black box. Many users frequently
depicted Merkel staring suspiciously at the same small black box.
Steffen Seibert, head of the German Governmental press agency was
even prompted to reply: “Regarding the Neuland discussion: The
Internet is quite new political ground, we felt, in daily
The ‘Twitteratti’ didn’t seem to agree. “She has been sleeping well for 23 years,” one noted.