The misleading sensation, held out by the new technologies, that we know a lot and know a lot of people, can be remedied by leaving one’s comfort zone and opening up to others in public space.
Hakan Günday says that thanks to the new technologies, which give us enormous amounts of information, we have the sensation that we know a lot and that, through the social networks, we also know a lot of people. Although we have never spoken with our neighbours, we know a great deal about them. This sensation of proximity, combined with the protection afforded us by the screen, is pleasant, soothing, but only an illusion. Public space, Günday says, is the exact opposite. It means going to look for information instead of settling for what is served up to us. It means knocking at your neighbour’s door, looking him in the eye, and asking who he is.
Hakan Günday’s favourite public space is Taksim Square in the centre of Istanbul, where huge demonstrations took place in 2012. What had started out as a protest about the conversion of a park into a shopping mall turned into a historic demonstration for democracy, bringing together people from a wide range of origins, status and convictions, who might never have coincided otherwise. Meeting with other people, sharing the same space, and listening to what they say is a good way of ceasing to be afraid of the “other”.