The Danger of Being Social: Age of the Troll

Mar 19

The Danger of Being Social: Age of the Troll

Social media has been a fantastic source of marketing and connection for us over the years. As it continues to grow and evolve and we continue to expand our reach as a business, it’s inevitable that at some point you will run into a troll. This happened this week and while I would normally just brush it off, it was particularly hurtful and I wanted to address it publicly.

While the vast majority of the interactions I receive on the various social media platforms are positive, every so often someone decides to hide behind the veil of anonymity and say things that they would never say to you in a face to face conversation. In this case, this person may have said these things to my face, but I’m not sure it would have been quite so mean spirited. This interaction occurred on You Tube in response to my video on how to make a delicious Moroccan Lamb Tagine.

Here is the video:

While the comments and subsequent conversation have been deleted and reported to You Tube, the gist of it was that I was being disrespectful of the Moroccan culture and people by stealing their recipes and sharing them and that I am somehow profiting off of their culture without their permission. The words “white privilege” and “cultural appropriation” were used and the person subsequently proceeded to state that people like us shouldn’t breed and spread our hatred and colonialism.

I actually made a response that has also since been deleted by You Tube stating my credentials, which are as follows: I have a Master’s Degree in Cultural Anthropology with an Emphasis in Food and Culture. My field research was done in Morocco and the focus of my thesis was on Moroccan Tea Ritual. I spent a lot of time interacting with Moroccans from all walks of life including Berbers, Touareg Nomads, Arabs, Jews, Men, Women, Conservative and Liberal. My intent in researching and subsequently writing about Morocco was to highlight the rich culture and to spread my love of the people and food to others. My thesis has since been published by Lambert Academic Press in 2010 and was inducted into the Library of Congress.

When I decided to become a chef, my interest in cuisine was to bring ethnic foods of all kinds to people who may otherwise not get the opportunity to experience these cuisines. Food is the one universal language. It is a platform for learning and exchange that is safe and that can create peace and understanding. So when I teach about the foods of Morocco or any other country for that matter, my intent is not to spread colonialism or to “culturally appropriate” their traditions, my intent is “cultural appreciation” and the opportunity to breed peace and tolerance. I consider myself an advocate for cultural understanding and peace and my media is food. Plain and simple.

A couple of other points I would like to make are as follows:

1) We live in a global economy. No country exists in a bubble. We all benefit from trade agreements, importing and exporting goods and ideas, and Morocco has the longest standing unbroken treaty relationship with the US than any other country, beginning in 1787.

2) The three major resources that Morocco profits off of are agriculture, phosphates and tourism. Many of those phosphates end up here in the mid west in the form of fertilizer and you cannot profit from tourism if you would like to live in an isolated bubble.

I have no intention to stop doing what I do because of this troll, but I wanted to write about it because it is important to have a dialogue about the dangers of being social and public with your brand and ideas. There is great value to social media but it does open you up to a world of possibilities, some of which may not be positive. I will keep promoting cultural awareness through food, continue teaching people about Morocco and it’s incredible cuisine and above all, I will continue fighting for peace, one meal at a time.

Lamb Tagine

Lamb Tagine

8 Responses

  1. Monica, you are so talented and learned. We admire your cultural diversity. You are sharing with others, and that is the important thing. Hopefully by sharing we will be able to have insight into other cultures and accept people as they are.

  2. Craig says:

    Well stated. Sorry I fed the troll more than I should have.

  3. Wendy says:

    OMG – I am so sorry that happened! What in ignorant and narrow-minded individual!!

    By his/her reasoning, anyone who shares Italian recipes or Chinese recipes or Peruvian recipes without being of that ethnicity is guilty of the same offense. Has this person slapped the Food Network or the Travel Channel for “appropriating” various ethnic recipes and sharing them with millions? Let’s see, Robert Irvine would certainly be guilty as would Andrew Zimmern or Curtis Stone or many others. Maneet Chauhan makes Indian-Latin cuisine. Should she be required to excise the Latin part because she is not from that culture?

    And how DARE Julia Child tell Americans how to make French food!! She’s not French! Sacre bleu!!!

    How stupefyingly small-minded – and small-hearted.

    How can presenting various aspects of different cultures with others – who might never get the chance to experience them firsthand – possibly be bad? It is what promotes understanding, tolerance… and peace, as you noted.

    If no one ever tried to understand another culture – as this person seems to think you shouldn’t – this world would be filled with far more hatred, intolerance and aggression than it is.

    Somehow this person failed to see the love, joy and celebration of Morocco that you so clearly shared. Feel sorry for people who cannot perceive goodness when it’s right in front of them.

    We’ve stayed with you and your food is fantastic!!! Keep doing what you do!! I know well that sometimes it’s hard to ignore the haters but ignoring them – and continuing on with a smile – is the best revenge.

    P.S. – Seriously, you should be on TV. 🙂

  4. Connie says:

    Thank you, Monika, for opening our senses to the smell, taste, texture, and look of food from not only Morocco, but other cultures as well. You have broadened our understanding and appreciation of those cultures and the foods that represent them. So proud of your professionalism and passion for peace and understanding.

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