Turks thrive on being social. They're always engaging with their friends, family and the people they are connected with; hence, it wouldn't be wrong to say that this social distancing thing is especially hard for them as a nation. They are the type of people that love to make unannounced visits to their friends' homes or offices, putting in the utmost effort to see them in person. The hardest part for many, especially the elderly, has been the limit on habitual visits to loved ones for tea or snacks and chats about daily life.
Naturally, the coronavirus pandemic has forced them to change the way they interact. While they are no longer meeting up with their friends in cafes and paying home visits, they have just simply carried their habits to digital channels. And thus the concept of virtual houseguests was born.
Associate Dr. Ferah Onat, from Yaşar University's Faculty of Communication, said the rapid spread of the coronavirus has limited physical interactions, and this has pushed people to find other ways to socialize.
Describing communication as one of our most basic needs, Onat said video calls through various applications has come to the rescue of people in such desperate times.
"As a society, we love to host guests; we love house visits, and the most important action toward maintaining our social relations and social status has been hospitality for centuries. However, today we have to stay in our homes because of the pandemic. In self-imposed quarantines, we are seeing a significant increase in video calls through digital apps," she said.
Pointing out that digital media, in a way, is helping lift some of the boundaries in our interpersonal relations, Onat recalled the times when Turks would pay visits to friends with TVs to sit, watch shows and talk together in the evenings.
"In the past, when not everyone had TVs in their houses, 'teleguests' (telesafir in Turkish, coined by sports commentator Halit Kıvanç) would come for a visit so we could watch it all together. This time around, we are hosting guests through screens," she said.
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