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Chile: ‘Influential’ Twitter Users Have Lunch With the President

On August 24, the same day that CUT workers (Worker’s United Central of Chile) were calling for the first day of a national strike, the president of Chile, Sebastian Piñera (@sebastianpinera), invited 15 influential Twitter users to have lunch in La Moneda -the presidential place- to hear their opinion and to discuss current national issues. According to the people who attended the meeting, the lunch lasted nearly 2 hours. This is the host list published by Cooperativa.cl:

One of the guests, lawyer Marcelo Brunet, commented on online paper El Dínamo [es]:

…más allá de los contenidos de lo conversado en el almuerzo, me parece interesante analizar el fenómeno de lo que pasó después de éste. El almuerzo provocó polémica, mucha más de la que, admito, imaginé cuando me invitaron a ella

[…] Besides the issues discussed at lunch, I think it is interesting to analyze what happened after this. The lunch caused, as a matter of fact, more controversy than the one I expected when they invited me.

As a matter of fact, this meeting caused controversy over the real popularity of those Twitter users, the chosen date and the loss of reputation experienced by those that accepted the invitation.

Philosopher Mirko Zarate (@MirkoChristianZ) asserts:

No entiendo porque los llaman “Influyentes” sin ninguno de los supuestos influye mas o menos que otros twitteros …

I do not understand why they call them “influential” if none of them have more or less influence than the other Twitter users…

Twitter user @LaOvejaNegra_ affirmed:

Porque recurre a monitoreos y twitteros influyentes para “entender”, en vez de abrir la ventana y escuchar al pueblo #PiñeraNoMeRepresenta

Why does [the President] use monitoring and influential Twitter users to “understand”, instead of opening the window and listening people #PiñeraDoesNotRepresentMe

Teacher and blogger @sita_mini ironically suggested:

Buena jugada d #Piñera d hacer almuerzo-twittero el día del #paronacional, así nos dedicamos a pelar el evento y no el paro. TOUCHÈ!

Piñera made a nice move by inviting people to the Twitter lunch the same day of the #paronacional [national strike]. By doing this, we focus on criticizing the event, instead of the strike. TOUCHÉ!

Sergio Sepúlveda, the head of the El Fracaso magazine (@MrSergo) pointed out:

Aún me da risa que Pilera [sic] se haya juntado con twitteros… algunos se venden incluso por un almuerzo picante con el presidente

I still think it is funny that Pilera [sic] has attended a meeting with some Twitter uses… some people sell themselves for a crappy lunch with the president.

Juan Carlos Alvear (@pornoenbraile) summarizes this controversy with this tweet:

Estoy cachando que todos los “twitteros influyentes” terminan siendo odiados

What I can see now is that all “influential Twitter users” are now despised.

Sentidos Comunes gathered more reactions through Storify [es].

Many people wonder whether this meeting had concrete solutions besides exchanging opinions. One of the guests, Javier Senfeliú, comments on this fact in a post at El Dinamo: “El día que me invitaron a conversar en La Moneda” [es] (The day I was invited to discuss some issues in La Moneda)

(…) Hoy la ecuación es conversación + colaboración + participación. Si Usted no cree en ninguna de ellas, sujétese. Será un fósil.

Eso es todo. Un almuerzo que no va a cambiar el estado de las cosas, ni va a dar educación de calidad para todos, ni va a acabar con el abuso de las empresas sobre los consumidores, ni con la política chanta que promete y no cumple. Un almuerzo entre gente de las redes sociales y El Gobierno.

Today, the equation is discussion+collaboration+participation. If you don’t believe in any of these, prepare yourself. You will be a fossil.

That is it. A lunch is not going to change things, nor will it provide good education for everyone, nor is it going to avoid consumers  being abused by companies, nothing is going to change the fake politicians that do not keep their promises. A lunch between the people of a social network and the government.

As expected, bloggers talked about the demonstrations. Regarding this aspect, in his blog [es] Eduardo Arriagada commented on his conversation with the President the meeting day.

(…) Piñera me aseguró que “lejos de reflejar un agotamiento del modelo, lo que reflejan las protestas es todo lo contrario: que dados los buenos resultados de la economía chilena, la gente está pidiendo cosas que son propias de países desarrollados”.

(…) Piñera dijo que hay una nueva ciudadanía que es “mucho más severa en la forma en que juzga a las autoridades (…)

(…) Piñera asserted that “Those demonstrations, far from depicting a weakened model, depict the opposite: since Chilean economy is giving good results, people are asking for common things that people in developed countries have”.

(…) Piñera said there is a new citizenry that is more severe when judging authorities.

In spite of the criticism about this event, it is important to stand out how important civilian opinion –without the interventions of some representatives- and citizen journalism have become. Will this lunch be the beginning of a dialogue with government? Regarding this aspect, Javier Sanfeliú pointed out:

(…) las dirigencias políticas entendieron tarde que el mundo cambió. Se lo tratan de explicar y entender pero no llegan tan allá. Están formateados por el siglo XX. Y en el siglo XXI la cosa cambió radicalmente. Desde Gutemberg que no hay un cambio tan radical en la información, desde la revolución industrial que el mundo no se transformaba como con la digital. El mundo giró con el impacto del cometa de los bites.

(…) political leaders did not understand the world had changed in that moment.  No matter how many times people try to explain them and made them understand, but they cannot see it. Their format got stuck in the 20th century. In 21st century, things have changed radically. There had not been a transformation at that extent ever since Gutemberg, since Industrial Revolution the world had not been changed, as it was in the digital revolution. This world spanned around faster with the bite impact.

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