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Welcome to #Neuland: Merkel’s remark about Internet goes viral

Published time: June 19, 2013 19:22
Edited time: June 19, 2013 20:00
German Chancellor Angela Merkel.(AFP Photo / Johannes Eisele)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel.(AFP Photo / Johannes Eisele)

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 Internet.

“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 territory.’”

“This day will go down in history. Germany, 19.06.2013: Merkel discovered #new territory.”


Merkel's infamous triangular hand gesture forming the logo of the fictional 'Neuland Explorer.'(Image from newsfromneuland.tumblr.com)

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.

Merkel with 'The Internet.' Image from newsfromneuland.tumblr.com

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 political action.”

The ‘Twitteratti’ didn’t seem to agree. “She has been sleeping well for 23 years,” one noted.



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