Last weekend, Abu Dhabi hosted Gamescon 2017, a major festival for video game fans.
Most of them were there to see cosplayers, the people who dress like game or movie characters.
It was just like Halloween, but exclusive to a niche audience.
They got into character, with their faces covered, letting out their inner child and enjoying hours of non-judgmental fun.
I saw an Arab Super Mario who was yelling in an Italian accent, a Mortal Combat fighter who was parkouring in the hall, and children dressed as Pikachu, believing they could electrify people.
To many of them, the opportunity served as a stress-releasing activity.
We all need to “cosplay” every now and then. Many hide their identities on social media to say or act the way they cannot in real life, especially in small, conservative societies.
For years, social media has been providing individuals with an identity-less space where they can “openly” express their opinions and share their thoughts and worries.
In the Arab world, I see many users with fake names often highlighting controversial topics.
They are, I believe, not hiding behind a mask because they fear the conservative laws, but rather the critical, non-forgiving society.
That is one of the reasons I believe ‘Saraha’, an anonymous messaging app, is exceptionally popular in the Arab world.
The app allows people to say what they want about anyone without being known to them.
Whether it is for fun or for
sharing our thoughts, online or offline, I think we all need to “cosplay”.