Stop “liking” and start getting involved
Interrail, hitch-hiking, backpacking – that is how you got to know Europe back in the 80s. I did it myself and it was terrific (well, mostly). However, that was long ago and I am certainly not about to start claiming everything used to be better. You only have to consider that today’s young European backpackers – yes, they still exist – are free to explore the eastern parts of the continent too. True, now they use low-budget airlines more frequently than trains (which is mainly the result of a misguided policy) but their appetite for meeting and getting to know new people remains unchanged.
This can be seen not only in the social networks but also on portals such as Meeting Halfway, an online magazine I would describe as one of the most successful of its kind. Well over 100 mostly young journalists, translators and devotees of Europe from every part of the continent work on this – without payment, carried by their enthusiasm and motivated by the opportunity to present their own work. The result is a mixed bag of commentary, portraits, interviews, columns, videos and quizzes taking in topics like art and culture and history and politics but also covering such issues as love or good food. The one thing no one should expect to find here is classic news journalism. There are translations in nearly 20 languages, including regional languages such as Galician and Catalan. For me, this in itself is one of the site’s highlights.
You might, of course, wonder whether an online magazine like this can really work in the era of Facebook and Instagram. However, I believe this is the wrong question. Meeting Halfway is not about clicks and likes or shares and followers – it is about discovery. It is about young stories from Europe. Above all, it is about getting involved: “We don’t want you to work for us, we want to work with you.” I would say this is Europe at its best.