A Case for Pessimism

Optimism can be healthy. But assuming the worst is over also means you won’t be prepared.



In 2006, a tornado struck the town of Parkersburg, Iowa. The devastation wreaked by the category F2 twister was sizable: The 150 mph winds left a path of destruction four and a half miles long and a third of a mile across. Businesses in the small city suffered $10 million in damages; private residences and the state college, tens of millions. The residents of Parkersburg were resilient: they rebuilt and moved on. In the process, however, they lost the ability to accurately assess their risk of experiencing another disaster. They were optimistic to a fault.

A few weeks back, Emily Esfahani Smith made a convincing case for the health benefits of optimism. More specifically, she reviewed recent research on resilience — the ability to overcome trauma or tragedy. According to Smith, having a positive outlook is the most powerful predictor of resilience; optimism, thus, actively creates positive outcomes. She explains:


When your mind starts soaring, you notice more and more positive things. This unleashes an upward spiral of positive emotions that opens people up to new ways of thinking and seeing the world — to new ways forward. This is yet another reason why positive people are resilient. They see opportunities that negative people don’t. Negativity, for adaptive reasons, puts you in defense mode, narrows your field of vision, and shuts you off to new possibilities since they’re seen as risks.


I’m an optimist and would never argue against the importance of being able to move on and thrive after negative life events. But for the sake of balance it’s worth taking one thing into consideration: While these open-minded individuals are looking ever-forward toward the horizon, that might mean failing to see — and thus failing to prepare for — the possibility of stumbling blocks still to come.

Read the entire article on the Atlantic

How 1 Billion People Are Coping With Death and Facebook

“I think I’m going to go online,” said Cheryl, logging in to Facebook from her hospital bed.

She soon reconsidered, however. “I don’t know what to write: ‘Hey I almost died last night. What’s up with you guys?'”


Months later, Cheryl died from Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Her partner Kelli Dunham still cherishes funny memories like this one. “She was kind of a smart ass,” Dunham tells Mashfable.

The two represent a phenomenon occurring the world over: Facebook after death. Couples, families, colleagues and friends are not only coping with losing loved ones, but also interacting with the Facebook profiles they leave behind.

The situation surfaces a multitude of questions and concerns. What happens to a Facebook profile after death? How do people interact with a dead user? Should loved ones be able to access a dead user’s profile at all? What is acceptable online grieving etiquette? And finally, what has grief become in the age of social media?

As of 2012, 30 million people who maintained Facebook accounts have died, according to areport by The Huffington Post. Some studies approximate that nearly 3 million users have died in 2012 alone; 580,000 in the U.S.

Read the entire article HERE on Mashable

How we communicate death and illness with social media

The way we communicate about serious illness and death in our private lives has been utterly transformed by social media. Using Facebook, text and even Twitter, as well as reliable old email, we take our most urgent and affecting news and send it on its digital way, barely stopping to absorb its deep impact on us, let alone the recipients.

Some of it is miraculous: Toronto publicist Riannon John masterminded an online communication strategy three years ago when her well-connected mother, Judith John, an executive at the Sick Kids Foundation, underwent emergency life-threatening brain surgery. With the click of the Send key, Riannon was able to relay news of her condition to family and the hordes of her mother’s friends at the same time.

This meant no hurt feelings about who was the first to know (yes, people do get into snits about where they’re ranked in the pecking order) not to mention disseminating accurate, nonsensational information that isn’t mangled by a distraught phone tree.




Read the entire article HERE

Introducing New Respectance

The digital afterlife goes social and so does Respectance!
With the launch of the new Facebook application Respectance integrates their existing community with social network Facebook.

On Respectance, users can instantly create a personalized Tribute for someone who passed away or has been missed for many years already.
Family and friends come together on Respectance to share their favourite memories and relive those irreplaceable moments.

Respectance-1What does the Respectance Facebook Application offer?
– Login via Facebook – Create and share tributes
– Read, share and comment on stories of others who have been touched by similar life experiences
– Create your own tribute calendar – Indicate how a tribute is connected to you:
1. in memory of a beloved person: family, friend, idol or unrelated
2. in memory of a favorite pet
3. in memory of an important event

Mourning: the good, the bad and the ugly

Today an agent got shot in a village next to Amsterdam. It was a big shock to all people with their hearts at the right place.


I watched what happened. The main newspaper in the Netherlands, Telegraaf, wrote an article about this on the front page online. This newspaper is far ahead others, they allow their readers to react to almost all articles they write online. For this reason they will be a winner in the end. The article about this lady cop, got an enormous amount of reactions. More than any other news item. When I write this, it totalled over 800 reactions.

Then the Dutch condolence register, a bit plain but still popular, got an enormous amount of reactions. And among them a very ugly one. This again got picked up by the shockblog Geenstijl. And then people react again to this guy leaving this ugly anti-condolence to this agent.

What a circle, and how interesting to see that people are now fully and visibly involved with everything that is happening. It gives me more trust, that there are many people who think as you do yourself. You feel more understood, if you recognize yourself in these reactions.

#RIP Heath Ledger


We could not believe the news that Heath Ledger is no longer with us. You always think that you see things coming. There are some artists that are really nominated to cross the line. But we were all shocked that Heath Ledger is no longer with us.

We hope that the fans will find their way to express their condolences at Respectance. After all this is why we started it. To give people a medium to express their emotions and read those of others.

Heath was a great actor, he will never be forgotten.


Respectance is getting quite some press. Since we found that a lot of our users are women between 25 and 50 we got invited by better.tv. This is a show broadcasted in eleven million households in the States. Rather big.

They made a special about why and how women can profit from social networking. Ranny is one of our early users. She lost her boyfriend in a tragic incident. After a couple of years she found Respectance and created a Tribute for her boyfriend Joe Woods. This has been quite an experience for Ranny, her friends and family. She is very grateful for having the opportunity to experience his life over again. It brought back a lot of memories.

When Ranny, as member of Respectance, and myself got interviewed in the studio, it was pretty emotional. But I am proud that she wanted to be featured in this show and set the example for other women. The scariest thing for living people is to be forgotten. We help them to refresh their memories and make sure that we will all have a place to keep our memories forever.

The middle photo is me with the entry badge we needed for the TV studios. They did not understand my ID, so my first name got changed into Nederlandse. That is in fact my nationality, Dutch.

The TV show will be broadcasted for the first time at October 19. After that it will be repeated and most likely be put on the internet.