Our Turkish neighbors are truly mobile and not just in the physical sense whilst driving, flying, ferrying or coaching across the land: would you believe that there are currently over 83 million handheld phone device subscriptions, a serious number.

Granted, not each and every citizen may want to use one as some would run two contracts at the same time, perhaps one for work and one for business. Nevertheless one can assume that in 2020 access to a mobile phone is pretty much standard everywhere in this fine country.

Similarly, if we take all 16 to 74 year old residents into account we quickly realize that a sensational 77.1 per cent are active internet users. Added up differently, almost 90 per cent of all Turkish households are connected.

The wider information technology picture tells us that back in 2019, 87.7 per cent of Europeans had access to the internet in one way or the other whereas Turkey stood at 83.3 per cent. However, as it seems Turkey is fast approaching pole position and once figures for the current year 2020 will have been published in nine months ‘time from today (suggesting Turkey might permanently exceed the 90 per cent mark) our host nation might just as well already occupy the top spot.

There are two competing explanatory reasons for these fast pace developments: on the one hand, Turkey has since long embarked on a high-tech revolution course including top-end manufacturing and production; no wonder that IT forms part of that approach in a sense of making all citizens and businesses part of it. On the other hand however there is something much more traditional to be noted: Turkish people simply love to stay in touch. Families are much bigger than in most comparable European cases and children take perfect care of their parents and often grand-parents anyways; hence, the daily ‘check-up’ call is routine and a much cherished routine.

In this context it does not come as a surprise then that on average a Turkish mobile phone subscriber would chat well over 440 minutes per calendar month and here we find Turkey already as a leader; in many other European countries the average talk time per 30 days is just about half of that staggering amount.

Let us not forget though that these are average figures; naturally, some will make more or longer calls than others but out of personal experience picking up your mobile phone to ring up loved ones regardless of whether living a few blocks apart or hundreds of miles away is like a non-negotiable feature on our daily calendar of activities.

Expatriates to greatly benefit from ‘mobile society’, too

Owning a mobile phone – ‘cep telefonu’ – or a computer – ‘bilgisayar’ – , respectively, is one thing; actually being able to make good use of it is often an altogether different matter. What we must take into account here are the often exorbitant costs for having the pleasure to chat with someone or ordering goods online or simply checking the weather forecast. For example, last time in the United Kingdom and using a UK SIM-card with a top-up voucher it hardly lasted a day with a comparable amount of minutes (or searches/tasks) completed as one would do here in Turkey yet with a huge bonus: in Kusadasi we would be able to use the same amount of data spread over a whole month and still have some MB if not GB left!

Then think going online in a café or restaurant or hotel: whereas in many European destinations we continue to shyly ask ‘do you offer free wireless and if so, for how long?’ over here we simply settle into our comfortable chair and ask the owner or staff ‘internet sifresilutfen’ which translates into ‘may I obtain your internet password, please?’

This in turn enables us international guests or residents to so much easier stay in touch with friends and family back in the place from where we originally hail from. It allows us to read our favorite newspapers online or to order a pizza. Let us not forget – and the spring of 2020 will for sure remain in our memories for years to come as one such scenario – that there are perhaps unexpected incidents in our lives of when having uninterrupted internet access or enough minutes in our call packages can become a live line or even a life saver, too.

Any downsides? Well, it all depends and this is written in the clear knowledge of that it may sound overly philosophical. Being hooked onto a tiny mobile screen surfing the net for 24/7 or chatting with friends for hours on end whilst overlooking that small detail of that we actually have a face-to-face existence, too (probably sitting at the opposite end of our sofa), can make us addictive. What we should bear in mind in this regard is that mobile communication and the internet are tools to make our lives more enjoyable; stress here is on the word ‘more’. We are blessed living with the friends and family and neighbors and work contacts and teachers and everyone else around us whom we soon will have the opportunity to meet once more in person.

Having written this final paragraph for this month’s edition which you shall be reading online (data courtesy Internetworldstats, Daily Sabah, Hurriyet Daily News) may I wish all of you ‘stay safe and stay healthy’ – it is worth the effort, as figuratively speaking soon the clouds will have dispersed and face-to-face should whenever possible replace facetime.

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