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Mexico: Telling Secrets on Twitter

rafa saavedra

Rafa Saavedra, writer and connoisseur of underground culture from the border city of Tijuana, in México, has turned each one of his electronic media channels into literary sandboxes. On one hand, he publishes short stories and projects in his blog Crossfader Network [es] (and its transmutations); on the other, as compulsive user @rafadro, he has taken to Twitter as a source for creation. His last literary-electronic project, “Soweird”, combines micro-fiction, secrets and Twitter.

Crossfader Network is my home, a place where I gather my thoughts, imagine better worlds and offer advances of what I do”, tells Rafa in an e-mail interview, “Twitter is my bachelor’s apartment: an eternal party with friends and followers, a source of (almost) first-hand information, a cluttered creative lab, hard irony, and genuine sincerity in 140 characters”.

In July of this year he asked his more than 200 Twitter followers to contribute with their biggest secret (or even a little secret, as he conceded moments after) to create a text told by multiple voices. With more than 40 secrets received through Twitter he came up with “Soweird”, where fiction and truth told 22 intimate moments of sex, shame and crime. The final story, available through his blog in both spanish and english, is planned to be published in the Mexican literary magazine El Perro [es].

In the section of “Soweird” dedicated to the topic of family, we found the following secret:

11. Mauritz engañó a su novia con la mujer de su mejor amigo. Al tronar éstos, la chica se casó con su hermano. Ahora no puede explicarle a su novia porque no pueden asistir a las reuniones familiares sin temor a causar una desgracia cuasi bíblica.

11. Mauritz cheated on his girlfriend with the girlfriend of his best friend. When they split up, she married his brother. Now he cannot explain to his girlfriend why they cannot attend family gatherings without fear of provoking a tragedy of biblical proportions.

In the crime section, we found this other secret:

17. Elwin empezó chingándose en cómics el cheque que su padre le mandaba para pagar la universidad privada a la que nunca asistió. Luego, tomó y gastó una cantidad considerable de dinero de su primer trabajo; argumentó que lo asaltaron. En otra ocasión necesitaba un trámite rápido en una dependencia municipal y pidió en la empresa una cantidad excesiva para sobornar al burócrata en turno (gastó la mitad en cervezas).

17. Elwin started spending the checks his father sent him to pay a private university he never attended on comic books. Then, he took and spent a considerable amount of money from his first job; he alleged he had been mugged. Another time he needed a quick procedure at a municipal office and he asked his company for an excessive amount to bribe the bureaucrat on duty (he spent half of it on beer).

Saavedra's view on the microblogging service goes beyond telling trivial details: “In Twitter, people frequently confess things so absurd, ludicrous and shameful. Come on, there's even a hashtag for #yoconfieso ("I confess"). So, instead of extracting a secret from my personal files, I decided that it would be very interesting to work with someone else’s secrets. I was interested in knowing how far they would dare, how much it would contrast with the image I have of Twitter users with the one they show to their followers. Writer’s voyeurism 2.0.”

Although he cannot reveal his followers’ real names, Saavedra characterized the users that joined him in the project: “There are a couple of foreigners, the age group is 19-40 years. As it can be read in the text, there are eight sections that divide the secrets (Sex, Shame, Ex Lovers, Family, Crime, Guilty Pleasures, Temptation and Ex Friends). The secrets from the Twitter users are more related to family, sex, shame and temptation. A couple of secrets were very shocking.”

“Soweird” is not the first crossover between Twitter and literature that Saavedra has achieved. In 2007, he was in charge of the collaborative project Microtxts, that collected 238 microfictions through the username @microtxts, and which has been published (as selections) in the Mexican publications Replicante [es] and Balbuceo. “I invited friends that were writers, journalists, Communications students and people that I thought could be interested in the creation of anonymous and serial micro-texts. The basic principle of this workshop was ‘Writing is sharing.’ In the beginning, they could not understand fully the dynamics of Twitter nor the writing process and anonymity. Later, we reached up to 100 participants”, commented in the interview.

“Right now I couldn’t understand my life without Internet, without social networks, without everything generated by both”, explained, “But at the same time, I can turn off the computer and live my life without any fear. Online lives, electronic media and its use are also a border we can cross with and without restrictions. The same thing happens with my life in Tijuana”.

As a farewell, Saavedra shared a “truth” about himself in 140 characters (or less):

“Nunca he querido ser otro que no fuera yo; sin embargo, cambio tan a menudo que a veces me cuesta trabajo reconocerme: Sí, una contradicción”.

“I’ve never wanted to be someone that is not me; however, I change so often that sometimes I cannot recognize myself: Yes, a contradiction”.

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