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.