Taroudant, Morocco - A visit to a nearby cafe equipped with Wi-Fi, which most Moroccan cafes now offer, is just enough to stop on the huge change in people's social behavior and the transfiguring of what used to be called "social public places."
Taroudant, Morocco – A visit to a nearby cafe equipped with Wi-Fi, which most Moroccan cafes now offer, is just enough to stop on the huge change in people’s social behavior and the transfiguring of what used to be called “social public places.”
The cafes have become still and quiet. With earphones on, everyone is sitting alone with their laptops or tablets, and no features of social life can be spotted. All this change left me perplexed with the nagging question, what happened to our socialization and sense of humor?
In the past, you would find people sitting in groups over a table discussing the daily updates in a jubilant and friendly manner. This group was talking about politics, that group about the problems they encountered in their work, and still others were engaged in a very intimate talk about the secrets of their marriage lives. In all ways, cafes were a great place to socialize and make the best of one’s free time with friends and colleagues.
This morning, I passed through a bookshop, got the morning paper, and headed to the cafe. I found some of my friends, with whom I frequently socialize and share interpersonal bond. We exchanged the conventional greetings and warmly shook hands. These social etiquettes took no more than five minutes, and afterwards, everyone turned again his face the screen of his laptop. One would think that they were working for the busiest company in the world, but in fact, they were just jabbering with virtual friends. I think there is something wrong with our new perception of friendship. It should not be understood that I am standing against digital friends; however, I strongly believe that we should not delude ourselves that digital relationships on Facebook and Twitter are a substitute for real ones.
Unfortunately, this decline in socialization is finding its way into our homes. A father locks himself in his home office, opening a window to the virtual world; a mother is lost in the cooking forums and “For Her” discussion platforms; and children are either trying to break new records on famous games installed on their tablets and smart phones, or playing with other virtual friends that can be anyone, but not necessarily their peers or classmates. The family then meets only during meal times, and, occasionally, when the Internet goes down.
The other day, I read a funny joke. “When the Internet went down, I joined my family, and, honestly, I realized that they are really nice people,” an Internet addict said to his friend. This joke is a piece of wisdom that struck the right note.
The social media network is bliss when it is used wisely and with moderation. Yet when the digital world takes over our life, leaving us with no free time for real friends and relatives, it becomes a problem. Most of us demonstrate this obsession through different degrees to the virtual world, and our naïve fondness for virtual “friendship” has corrupted the way we communicate. When we substitute our real friends for virtual ones, it is a sign that something really wrong is going on.
I would love to see people meeting over a teapot, sharing jokes and smiles. I would love to see relatives visiting one another without a prearranged meeting and sitting around an authentic Moroccan dish with humor and love. I would love to see colleagues at work socializing during break times, exchanging conventional phrases of motivation and encouragement. Yes, I mostly would love to see children in the street playing cheerfully together without parental control.
So please, excuse my rudeness, if I say when you finish reading this piece, close that device and give some time to those who need your love, your smile, and your time.
Edited by Katrina Bushko