While I wait for my work permit, I work for a Dutch mental health care organization. I blog for them, handle their Twitter and Facebook accounts, and keep track of other things we could be involved in. In that work, I have learned three things about social media that make me think of Morocco. About two years ago, Mrs Missouri and I went on a surprise trip (for me, she planned the whole thing) to Morocco and the Sahara desert. We arrived in the city of Marrakesh, where we walked around on the main square. The next morning, we hopped into a little rental car and went to the desert, where we changed our transportation to camels and rode into the desert to stay the night under the most incredible starry sky I have ever seen. It is still one of the most amazing trips I’ve ever made, not in the last place because I had to spend two 9-hour days in a small car with someone who barely was my official girlfriend.
The two things I learned on that trip were in that order, too. The main square in Marrakesh centers around over a hundred places to eat. Hardly more than a grill and some pick nick tables, all those places look the same, and they all have the same annoying ‘marketing strategy’. When you walk across the square, they will jump in front of you and harass you: they shove a menu under your nose and will start yelling at you in different languages, until you react. When they found out your language, they will continue talking to you, now as if you’re a long lost friend who they’ve been waiting for all evening. By law, they’re not allowed to touch you, but nothing else will stop them from bullying you to one of their tables. Often, four or five of those ‘restaurants’ do this at the same time. Where we sat down, suddenly had nothing to do with the food or service, but with the idea of not being harassed. When I read my Twitter feed, I often feel like I’m walking in Marrakesh again. Lesson number one: when you are likely to be overwhelmed, know what you’re coming for.
The second thing I learned about social media actually hit me afterwards. We noticed that our rental car drew attention. By the time we drove into the desert and traffic got dense, every single car in front of us would break down. As emphatic human beings, we felt sorry, but as tourists it made us nervous, so we decided not to stop. After wondering for a while what sort of coincidence was going on with these cars, and why they were stopping well before they could see our tourist faces, it hit me. Our little Fiat wasn’t that spectacular. It is basically the most normal car you could imagine. Apart from the fact that it was blue. Every single car we saw in the nine hours between Marrakesh and Markoush was white, grey, or black. A blue car in the desert stands out like Waldo at a nude beach. Lesson number two: if you stand out enough, people will stop their car in the side road to get you to talk with them.
As a summary of those two things, I’d like to end with showing you my uncle’s kickstarter project. It stood out to me, and it’s definitely worth sitting down for: