Monday, May 06, 2013

A 'do you know who I am?' moment in Mexico

I just read an entertaining story at the BBC about a wealthy young woman who got her father to shut down a popular restaurant in Mexico City -- apparently because she couldn't get the table she wanted. The focus of the story was that the incident "reveals a lot about Mexico's sharply stratified society." No doubt this is true. What interested me more was the technological angle. People in the restaurant at the time took photos and tweeted about the situation, and it immediately backfired on the woman and her powerful father (who is in the government). Without twitter, the incident probably would not have become known in Mexico City, let alone Mexico at large, and around the world -- instantly.

This story comes a week after Reese Witherspoon was arrested for disorderly conduct. She used the "Do you know who I am?" ploy with the arresting officer. Thanks to the lightning speed of the internet, I knew about this within hours of the arrest. Within a day I was watching the officer's dashcam footage on Liveleak, which includes the damning audio.

So, my interest in these stories is the way technology is being used by ordinary people to keep the ruling elite in check. I'm less interested in the angle of a "sharply stratified society." I happen to believe all societies are sharply stratified, and have been throughout history. Patricians vs. plebs, and all that. There will always be rich people and powerful people, alongside the poor and downtrodden, but people can be held to account now in ways that were never before possible. Go technology!

No comments: