Mexico elite feel wrath of social media

2013-05-12T00:00:00Z Mexico elite feel wrath of social mediaTim Johnson Mcclatchy Newspapers Arizona Daily Star
May 12, 2013 12:00 am  • 

MEXICO CITY - Those who resent the powerful ruling class of this country have coined colorful slang phrases for the rich and entitled. The sons of the elite are called "juniors," or worse papaloys, a Spanish language contraction of the words "papa" and "lords."

Upper-class young women are known as lobukis or simply "ladies."

For decades, or even longer, the sons and daughters of the elite did what they pleased, and if they rolled over little people, hardly anyone was the wiser.

But social networks have raised the penalty bar significantly for abusive behavior. When it occurs, bystanders are likely to snap photos with their cellphones, take video, post to Twitter and Facebook and rain a torrent of ridicule on the miscreants.

Recent days have brought several examples, and social scientists say the power of social networks to voice discontent is running headlong into traditional Mexican behavior in which the phrase, "Don't you know who I am?" carries the threat of unassailable power.

Soon after dawn Thursday, two women in a sporty convertible Porsche Boxster hit a pickup truck in the fashionable Roma district of the capital, pushing the pickup into a 50-year-old woman and injuring her. Police arrived as the two women tried to flee.

The well-dressed ladies, who had apparently spent the night out partying, yelled abusively at the police, saying they were friends with commanders known by the nicknames "Apolo 3" and "Alfa Apolo 3." The officers took the women into the precinct anyway.

Social networks buzzed with the story, and the incident picked up the hashtag #ladiesdelaroma (or Ladies of Roma) on Twitter.

"People learn of these events almost as soon as they happen, and they quickly express their indignation," said Maria Elena Meneses, a professor of journalism and digital culture at the Monterrey Institute of Technology.

The incident underlined the struggle between an old social order and the desire of some Mexicans for a more equitable social order. "It's a real power struggle between people on the social networks and authorities who want to emphasize that they are in charge and who refuse to be held accountable," she said.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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