Sé que esta es mi primera entrada en mucho tiempo, pero leyendo viejos documentos, material de los tiempos universitarios, me encuentro con este análisis cultural de la red social Twitter a nivel costarricense que fue parte de un examen práctico, parcial segundo, del curso Crítica literaria de la carrera de inglés en la UCR. Me llamó la atención compartir los resultados de esta encuesta, que apliqué a muchos de mis seguidores el año pasado en una de mis sesiones de spam más épicas de la historia, así como mi análisis. Me disculpo por su naturaleza en inglés, pero no he hecho aún una traducción de esta pregunta de desarrollo tan hermosa, obvio de un examen para la casa. Y solo para aclarar, el análisis cultural es parte de una teoría de crítica literaria, desde el cual se puede examinar una obra literaria o fenómeno social desde un punto de vista humanista y cultural. Tiene sus rubros teóricos: el postcolonialismo, la identidad, las costumbres, la naturaleza de un grupo, sus características, etc., conceptos que en este momento no preciso explicar. Ah, sí, saqué 17 de 20 puntos que valía el ítem.
Twitter, a micro-blogging social network founded in 2006, has become one of the most influencing social networks of the current era. With more than five hundred million users around the world, it has transform not only in a social network where people write about their lives but also in a vehicle for social, political and economic criticism. In the Costa Rican landscape, though, it seems to have exceeded digital boundaries. As it was considered an exclusive means with far less popularity than Facebook, since around 2010, it turned into more than a social network for sharing opinion, reading news or only meeting new people. It became a community where people from different strata, races and locations found an encounter point for them to share a digital parallel life.
I have decided to analyze this social phenomenon from a cultural approach to reveal outcomes that support the hypothesis that Costa Rican Twitter is more than a social network, but rather another cultural group with its own identity, customs and social characteristics. For doing so, a small instrument was applied to 60 Twitter users living in Costa Rica, obtaining 47 actual responses.
First of all, it was of my interest to determine whether people in Costa Rica use Twitter as a means to only read news, share opinions and follow famous people’s life, or if they use it to meet other people, make friends, meet eventual partners, or call people’s attention. In fact, 78.6% of the participants use it for sharing opinion on topics of interest, while 74.5% use it for reading news. Additionally, 34% of them said that they use Twitter to make friends or flirting, and 21.4% use it to call people’s attention through different means. This reveals that, even though the social network has not lost its original purpose of sharing opinion based on news and other topics of interest, people still use it for social interaction purposes. In the case of Costa Rica, it has gone beyond digital boundaries. Many people there meet in actual places so-called the 1.0. They refer to the digital web space on Twitter as the 2.0. In the 1.0 they gather in different activities called “reunions tuiteras” such as the #TwitterPartyCR or the #TPCR, as well as reading clubs such as #CírculoDeLectores or even the #TwitterCopaCR. For the last one, they have even formed Twitter soccer teams: Los Chinameros, Dinámicas FC, among others. In fact, 22 out of 47 participants in the survey said that they have attended no more than three Twitter gatherings, whereas 12 of them have never done so. All this information is important to understand the cultural setting that has formed in this digital social space, based on social interactions through a digital means.
Leading to the next topic, it seems that Costa Rican Twitter tends to be an egalitarian space though the opinions are very partialized and tight. To the question “doo you believe that Twitter is a social network for mid or high class people?,” 48.9% answered positively, whereas 51.1% negatively. This reveals that either in the 1.0 or the 2.0 people from all social classes interact. Thanks to Costa Rican Twitter user’s open-mindedness, discrimination is almost inexistent when it comes to social class. Conversely, to the question “do you believe that Twitter is a social network for highly literate people?,” the positive answers yielded a 52.2% and the negatives a 47.1%. This suggests that Twitter users consider that maybe there is a tendency for using Twitter amongst literate people, which reveals that the social gap is actually present in educational terms in the Twitter community. It is also worth mentioning that, on Costa Rican Twitter, there are a great variety of cultures and races: Colombians, Dominicans, Americans, Mexicans, etc, all living in Costa Rica, as well as people from Limón, Guanacaste, the Southern Zone, among others. This lets that people receive cultural knowledge and intercultural awareness through the use of Twitter, thus contributing to a more tolerant environment in terms of race differences. However, as the network is more used for sharing opinions, the discrimination slightly occurs when different ideologies clash, and this is the main source of unfollows, rather than of social class, race or literacy.
Finally, it was worth analyzing how much of an identity has been created through the use of Twitter. Interestingly, the identity seems to be well-established. It is an identity that goes hand by hand with the Costa Rican identity though in a different and more realistic and egalitarian way. Since most Hashtags use by the community end up with the acronym “CR” (EG: #HambreCR, #TráficoCR, #TemblorCR, etc), it can be said that they seek to be recognized as Costa Ricans; they are proud of it, I myself use a username with such characteristics: @Bry_StarkCR. The interviewees think that the use of Twitter is not for imitating Americans or Europeans, who were the ones that burst Twitter’s global popularity. This reveals that the social network use does not reflect post-colonial tendencies, reinforcing the users’ own identity as “tuiteros.” In fact, 38 participants shamelessly identified as “tuiteros” from Costa Rica and 14 of them give an average life importance to the use of the network.
I conclude that, indeed, Costa Rican Twitter is more than just a social network. It is a social and cultural group, with its own customs, language, practices and identity. It is a well-defined microculture that was born to provide some people with a personal, free and boundless space of opinion and social interaction complementary to their own social spaces such as family, work, school or other social landscapes. On Twitter people can write everything they want with no fear and shame and still can make friends.