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Talking About Social Media in Pucallpa, an Amazonian City in Peru

Pucallpa, imagen de Jairo Galvis Henao en Flickr.

Pucallpa, photo by Jairo Galvis Henao on Flickr. Shared under CC 2.0 Licence.

This is an edited version of the original post published on the Globalizado blog by Juan Arellano.

Even though there has been progress in immersing Latin America into the digital world — more than 50% of the population is now online (of which 32% are young people under the age of 25) — internet speed and its technological capabilities still leave much to be desired. So, in theory, there are many medium-sized and small cities with internet access, but not everyone knows what they can do online besides make an account on a social network and share memes or selfies. Or do they?

I recently went on a trip to Pucallpa, a medium-sized city with a little over 200,000 inhabitants in the Peruvian Amazon, near the river of Ucayali. The last time I was there was in 1994, and the internet was a novelty even for scholars in Lima, the capital of Peru, where the first public internet cafes were opened in 1995. Before the trip, I did some research online looking for people who had interesting content from and about Pucallpa, to speak about what they do. Here are the results.

Instragram: Igers Pucallpa, bringing the beauty of Ucayali to the world

We arrived to paradise, the beautiful Red Land, Pucallpa. #IgersPucallpa photo of the day thanks to @cocusc. To be highlighted, remember: Follow @igerspucallpa, User #Pucallpa #IgersPucallpa. Selected photo by @ayrtongl_96. @igerspucallpa is a member of @igersperu and of the worldwide @igers.

If you are a regular on Instagram, you will know that there are Igers accounts (Igers stands for “Instagramers”) for almost any city on the planet. Pucallpa is no exception. I spoke briefly with Ayrton Gaube, a 20-year-old civil engineer and photography lover, who is behind Igers Pucallpa.

@IgersPucallpa es una página muy joven y de crecimiento rápido. En un principio, había ciertos inconvenientes con lo que las personas de la región compartían (selfies, anuncios publicitarios, fotos paisajistas pobres o carentes de calidad). Estos detalles fueron desapareciendo cuando la página empezó a tener acogida. Ahora las fotos que compartimos son cada vez más nutridas. La etiqueta #Pucallpa presenta una gama de imágenes que muestran, día a día, las experiencias tanto de pucallpinos nativos, como de los visitantes. Se comparten paisajes, cultura, gastronomía, selfies, etc.

Acá en Pucallpa no tenemos una comunidad de instagramers consolidada, solo los administradores y un grupo cercano a nosotros. Aún no hemos realizado alguna actividad, por carencia de tiempo más que todo, aunque si estaríamos interesados en llevar a cabo un photowalk este año en la ciudad

@IgersPucallpa is a very young page and with rapid growth. From the beginning, there were certain inconveniences in terms of what the people of the region shared (selfies, public announcements and low-quality or poorly done landscape photos). These details started to disappear when the page began to be well-received. Now the photos that we share are increasingly better. The hashtag #Pucallpa presents a spectrum of images that show, day to day, the experiences of natives as well as visitors. Landscapes, culture, food, selfies, etc. are posted.

Here in Pucallpa we do not have a consolidated community of Instagrammers, only the administrators and a group close to us. We have not yet done any activities, for lack of time more than anything else, even though we would be interested in doing a photowalk this year in the city.

Broadcasting on YouTube, from the red land

There are some YouTubers in Pucallpa, but I was captivated by the freshness of Gianny Stolz's channel, so I could not resist contacting her to ask her a few things.

El vlog es algo que abrí para liberarme, porque por haber estudiado en uno y otro colegio durante mi secundaria, no he forjado amistades duraderas, y entonces había temas que no tenía con quién conversar y quería soltar todo eso en alguna parte. Ya tenía tiempo siguiendo a otros youtubers nacionales y extranjeros, y dije: why not? ¿Por qué no hacer algo aquí? No tenía experiencia, pero bué… tenía las ganas. Y así es como ahora tengo 16 videos en mi canal (17 en realidad, el primero es la presentación y se nota mi nerviosismo LOL). El más visto es la crítica a una película peruana…

The vlog is something that I opened to liberate myself, since having switched from one school to another, I have not developed strong friendships; I didn't have anyone to talk with about certain topics and I wanted to get things off my chest somewhere. I had been following other YouTubers for some time, some were local and others foreign, and I said, Why not? Why not do something here? I did not have experience but okay… I wanted to do it. And that is how I now have 16 videos on my channel (17 actually, but the first one is the introduction and my nervousness comes across. LOL). The most viewed one is a critique of a Peruvian movie…

The Ronsoco Azul, a comic from Pucallpa

Holy Week cartoon by Carlos Cavero.

Holy Week. “With a delicious ‘juane’ made of cassava.” Cartoon by Carlos Cavero.

If there is one person who is a representative of Pucallpa on social media, that person is Carlos Cavero, who is present and very active on almost all social media networks with his comic, Ronsoco Azul.

El Ronsoco Azul nace el 27 de abril del 2010 como un experimento con temática ambiental, social, climática y uno que otro chispazo de humor, a veces con ironías y sarcasmos. Primero se publicó en Facebook, luego se armó el Fan Page. Digamos que el primer año fue interesante. El segundo año ganó el premio de los 20 mejores blogs en la categoría hobbie en Fundacion Telefónica. Luego vino la propuesta de usar al personaje para las fiestas Barena (eventos organizados por una cervecería local) por 10 meses, las agendas, posters y finalmente el libro por parte de Ediciones Altazor. Lo visualizan más por Facebook, Twitter aún tiene pocas visitas.

The Ronsoco Azul was born on 27 April 2010 as an experiment with environmental, social, and climate topics and a spark of humor here and there, sometimes with irony and sarcasm mixed in. First, it was published on Facebook, then the Fan Page was created. Let's say that the first year was interesting. The second year it won the prize of the 20 best blogs in the category of hobby by the Telefónica Foundation. Then we had a proposal to use the character for the festivities of Barena (events organized by a local beer company) for 10 months, the agendas, posters and finally the book thanks to Ediciones Altazor. It is posted more on Facebook, Twitter still has very few views.

Does #Pucallpa exist?

@Cyberjuan In reality, there is not much of a tweeting culture in Pucallpa, and the users are casual. I have a theory about this.

To my dismay, Pucallpa appears to not be a city where Twitter is popular. Apart from Carlos, who tweets constantly and a handful of other Twitter users sort of active, there is no more activity on that network. Our friend @Beltor, who lives between Pucallpa and the city of Iquitos to the north, tells us why he believes that this happens:

Iquitos tiene una saludable vida tuitera gracias a la mediocre señal de internet de hace unos años, y a los jóvenes que en ese entonces apostamos por Twitter como una ventana más al mundo. En Pucallpa es casi lo contrario, pues la gente tiene mejor conexión de internet casi desde la expansión a provincias de los servicios de datos móviles. Solo usan el Facebook por el [popular] uso de red social, pero muy poco Twitter, entre otras cosas, porque pueden usar la red para mayor variedad de accesos.

Por otra parte en Iquitos hay cierta fibra cultural, social y de denuncia que es más bien un poco escasa en Pucallpa. Intenté, y aún intento, seguir a tuiteros pucallpinos, pero sus posts además de no ser constantes son más bien una mescolanza de varios temas y cosas personales, y si tratan de publicar algo como reclamo o queja usan Facebook. Lo puedes comprobar fácilmente tagueando #Pucallpa y ver lo pobre que es el Twitter al respect.

Iquitos has a healthy Twitter life thanks to the mediocre internet signal they got some years ago and to the young people that, at that point in time, had bet on Twitter being another window into the world. In Pucallpa, it is almost the opposite, people have had a better internet connection since the expansion to the provinces of mobile data services. They only use Facebook because of its popularity, but they use Twitter very little because, among other reasons, they can use internet for a wider variety of services.

On the other hand, in Iquitos there is a certain cultural, social and protest fiber that is rather scarce in Pucallpa. I tried, and still try, to follow Twitter users from Pucallpa, but their posts, in addition to not being regular, are more of a mix of various subjects and personal topics, and if they publish something like a complaint they use Facebook. You can check easily by tagging #Pucallpa and seeing how poor Twitter is in this regard.

Nonetheless, it appears that there are occasions in which the few Twitter users of Pucallpa become more active. I could see that recently during the strike that affected the city in March 2016, when I searched for videos about what was happening on Twitter, and I found a good amount of material shared there.

Perhaps these recent events in the city marked the beginning of more activity on online social networks.

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