On loving Blogging, Twittering and the rest of 2.0 wonders

Last night, I was talking to my boyfriend about how much I love blogging. “Could I get paid for blogging? And blog as a full time job?” – I naively asked him. I know they are some people, who earn money thanks to their blog, but I’m not familiar with the ways and I’m not comfortable about using publicity that it might distract the readers. But putting that aside, Blogging about this, about anything else; would be like my ideal job. To engage with a story or a feeling, to carefully – or not – prepare an entry on a Word Document, to copy it and paste it in a blogger entry template, adding some necessary html codes, to carefully –if needed – select an image, to click on publish and wait for the comments; to delight yourself when the comments reach – if they do, unfortunately they not always do – or when your visits increase. To create your own space that anyone, everywhere, can see and read and make a stance about it.

In Venezuela, Internet is our best source of information. Of all Internet sources, including Blogs; Twitter and Facebook have proved to be more effective because of their ability to transmit the information shortly and immediately. For the rest, the traditional media is pretty much banned for us. There is only one channel with an open TV signal who dares to pass on information and commentary against the government: Globovision. But this Channel is forced to follow many government regulations which include to broadcast long “cadenas” of government’ propaganda, speeches and event; and to not inform about certain news (especially does about violent events and street protest) immediately because, government argues, this would multiply the protests thus creating a chaos 1989 like. Plus, the channel doesn’t have the necessary equipment to broadcast live sometimes. On cable we had RCTV but RCTV is not a 24 hours news channel, like Globo has many troubles to broadcast live and, hey! It was closed by the government – again – last Saturday.

The government designed what we call the “RCTV law” which established that if the production of a cable channel was made in Venezuela in a percentage equal or above 70%, this Channel would had to enter the same regulations as open signal TV channels, including the broadcast for hours of government’ propaganda for free. Plus, this “national cable channels” would not be allowed to interrupt any program to broadcast any publicity. Virtually, the only channel that fell into this regulation was RCTV. 4 other Channels also got the same luck, one from Chile, but I have never seen those to be honest – and I have cable. RCTV claimed the measure was illegal, refused to broadcast a few “cadenas” and argued that the publicity issue would kill its finances. Soon before we know it, RCTV screen was black again, giving us an odd memory back in 2007 when RCTV was the oldest open signal Venezuelan channel and the government closed it at midnight, thus forcing it to move to cable.

The radio used to be an excellent source of information. In my family it was mandatory to carry a small radio to the marches and demonstrations because thanks to the radio we could follow the route of the march, to be informed about how massive it really was, what effect it was having and over all, beware of any troubles. The radio was my boyfriend’ faithful company every afternoon, stuck in traffic, on his way back home from work. Sometimes, he called me from his cell phone to tell me about some news he just had heard. But those kinds of calls stopped a few months ago when the government decided to massively order the closure of about 30 radio stations. Since then, the radio is about 90% silent. You can roll and roll throughout the whole FM frequency without finding any dissident voice.

Most of the few radio announcers, who didn’t lose their jobs, are now practicing self- censorship, fearing they would follow their colleagues luck. Others still hardly criticize the government, but this last, maximum, two or three hours a day. As you can expect, in the frequencies that belonged to the closed radio station, now you can hear many pro- government voices. Lately, I have heard the weirdest Revolutionary programs, including one about “the Socialist Philology”, hosted by some Argentinean who didn’t seem to have a clue of what he was talking about. The rest reminds me a bit of Orwell’s 1984 (one of my favorite books, in case you haven’t noticed yet); the simple and repeating songs that the “prole” (the poor ones without any class conscience or hope to have one) happily sang, feeling that everything was ok: on Venezuelan radio now there’s a lot of music everyday. Less than a year ago, at some peak hours it was hard to find any music on the radio. The stations were filled with commentary, debates, news, talks, calls… Now I regret every time I complained because sometimes I just wanted to listen a song and I couldn’t find any between all those radio talks. Now I can have all the music I want, but not a single opinion.

As for the press, is still there to some extent. But to be honest, I don’t like most of the Venezuelan press, I think is poor and incomplete. The papers usually spend a lot of space with big, useless pictures that accompany articles or news that do not need pictures in the first place. Those pictures are followed by a small, narrow, synthesized text, which always leaves you wanting more. You buy a 60 pages newspaper feeling that you waste your money if you judge by 55 pages of it. Even if the press were good enough, the press can only give us delayed information: on the afternoon or at the next day. In this fast moving world, printed press is usually delayed. We need to know if a few blocks away from home, the police are throwing tear gas bombs, or if there are wounded in a protest at one university because a relative is studying there and cell phones usually collapse on those kind of times.

So, logically, we have Internet. Thank God for Internet. Thank God for Blogging. Thanks, even more, for Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for giving us the opportunity of reading something more elaborated or worthy than what we find in the press, in the comfortable format of Blogspot, Live Journal or any other. Thanks for allowing comments and forums on nationally known citizen’ journalism pages such as www.noticierodigital.com and www.noticias24.com. Sometimes the information those pages contained is not well written or is not totally inaccurate, but is totally free of any type of censorship (including the most dangerous one: self censorship) and their discussions are music to my ears, the necessary catharsis for the appealed Venezuelan’ citizen. Thanks for those status on Facebook on which we laugh, or cry, or inform about those things we used to hear on the radio and now we can’t.

And every since this week, that I have just discover (late, I know, but I did) its true potential, thanks for Twitter. Same as I love blogging, I’m finding out that I also love Twittering. I opened my Twitter account a few months ago with the sole propose of informing my readers every time I publish something new, here or at my Spanish “light” blog. But since RCTV – second closure – happened, and painful events at my university and in many other places erupted, Twittering became almost as important as breathing. If it wasn’t for those 140 characters messages in my screen; it would have take me hours to find out that my university was a battle field since the police started to repress a demonstration, that protest against RCTV closure had erupt from Merida till Puerto La Cruz and that the “cacerolazo” in my neighborhood was not the only one. I knew that two students had died in Merida long before Globo or any other news agency dared to say something about it. And I had the plus to find it out directly from witness, who shared pictures and thoughts, who begged that the vital info they were passing on could be Twitted and re- Twitted all over the screens of this country.

Internet 2.0 – Blogging, Twittering, Facebooking – is the only effective, immediately, massive way Venezuelans have now to be informed when we need to know. Is that part of us, the scream, and the anxiety which used to be broadcasted live on several TV channels and now has gone. Now, that we cannot recognize ourselves in the TV or radio, that the TV and the radio are merely arms of the government and not tools for the citizens, we are rebuilding ourselves throughout Internet. In a place where no street is safe, no entertainment place can be frequently afforded, no government institution or program seem to give us any benefit unless we “prove” to be “revolutionary”… Internet is a beautiful alternative. Internet is young, fresh, easy, fast; but most important, is ours. We have lose the power of even whispering outside unless we are up for huge police reprisal, but by hitting the keyboards we can scream just so hard that it seems uncanny. In a country where nothing belongs to us, Internet is ours. And that’s one wonderful, incredible, challenging power. Whatever it is to speak about politics or this new movie we love or not, we have this one space to be ourselves.

The bad part is that Chavez knows it. Disturbed by the way protests against RCTV’ new closure spread across the country, he –words more, words less – qualified our Twitters as “terrorist rumors”. Ok, I’m with you on that, some of them were rumors, but only a few proved to be not true. And most people, who spread a rumor, did it only in the hope to confirm it, twittering something like this: “I heard they are deaths in Merida. Can someone there confirm this?” – I read Tweets like those loads of times. I just hope that Chavez do not use the name “terrorist” to put some bloggers and twitters hardly needed in jail. Anyway, Miguel O. blogged about this - in English for your pleasure – and the phrase he uses to end his post is so priceless, that I’m going to steal it, to end mine:

But in the end, besides feeling the threat from a weapon Chavez does not control or understand totally, maybe his key problem is that he could never make adequate use of it. For a man accustomed to uninterrupted speeches of six to eight hours, it must be simply impossible to even consider the possibility of communicating anything in 140 characters”.- So true!