Dear John Lennon…


Dear John Lennon,

So things have drastically changed since you were roaming around the streets of New York and I feel it’s about time that I write to you and let you know that we need you to get back here and finish what you started. It just hasn’t been the same without you.

After a huge lull period where youth simply gave up and decided to become part of the broken rat race system (we called that the 90s and pretty much carrying on until 2008), we now see a weird cuasi rebellious group raising their voice to speak out against that which is unfair and inherently wrong in society. Well, not really. For some reason, young people no longer raise their voices to speak out against or for something. It’s become a lot simpler… now they “Like” and “Share” things they feel passionate about for around 5 minutes and then it’s on to the next thing.

The face of idealism changes faster than Mitt Romney’s mind. Oh wait, you don’t know who Mitt Romney is. In sum, he’s a pompous asshole who thinks he can oust the current black US president. Yes, if you can believe it, a black guy made it to Penn 1600 and he didn’t do it by way of your pals at the Black Panther Party for Self Defense.

Anyways John, I’m kind of getting off subject here. I was telling you about today’s hope for a better tomorrow. They’re not as lazy as my generation but they are pretty close. But now they have the social media tools to make them build up a cloud of smoke through which they can feel good because they “support” something onerous. Again, the concept of supporting and becoming involved is nothing like when you were around. The movement is virtual in developed and developing countries. The only difference is that where in developing countries social media technology has become a habilitator and facilitator for social movement, in the developed world, it’s made people feel proud about “changing the world” by being couch potatoes and for the most part. doing nothing of real relevance or significance.

We lacked the spirit to raise our voices so we did the inexplicable: we shut up. But hey, at least we were honest about it. Your generation believed in symbols. Mine became a symbol of conformity. The next one copy-pastes symbols on their little bit of virtual reality and feels they’ve stopped the world’s injustices.

They’re ready to be inspired, John. But they need something or someone to inspire them by not trying to sell them a product as opposed to pushing an idea and breaking the boundaries of social awareness. They need you.

And for that matter, your wife needs you BAD. I’m telling you buddy, Yoko has been getting weirder and weirder ever since they came out with that Twitter thing. You know I love you and would never say anything mean to you about your choice of women but it is because I love you that I have to be honest and say: bitch’s gone off the reservation, man.

So you see, you’ve got to figure out a way to get back here and sort these people out (both the youth generation and Yoko). That asswipe Justin Bieber just ain’t cutting it, man.

Talk to you soon,


A friday message, via @rtarrats


I watched this video on a friend’s YouTube channel and it got me thinking. Guys, really… when you get home today from the office and you’ve got time to spend with friends and family, leave the damn iPhone/BlackBerry/Android or whatever “smart” phone you have on the table. I’m gonna start doing that a lot more and more often.

The world is not going to end if you don’t answer that BBChat notice, return a poke or retweet something.

Disconnect to connect. Enjoy your weekend and thanks for stopping by.

Shoutouts go to @rtarrats for this one. Excelente selección, Presi.

Great response to “Twitter saves lives in Mexico”


After 16 days of being published, my article “Twitter saves lives in Mexico” continues to be within the Top 5 “Most popular articles” on Americas Quarterly. Read the article here.

Thanks to each and every one of you who’ve made this possible by forwarding, sharing, retweeting, etc. the article to your friends and colleagues. I am humbled by the great response and it makes me a lot more accountable for future articles. I do hope you continue reading my posts on my AQBlog feed at

Thanks for checking them out! Here’s a quick list of my participations on Americas Quarterly (from last to first):



Please share this link


Ok, this one is serious you guys. I don’t normally do this, but I think this one is worth it. Please do forward, re-post, retweet, post on your facebook or just talk about this with your friends and family. As the video says, it takes 10 minutes.

Thank you for visiting.

“Twitter saves lives in Mexico” aftershock


 Yesterday morning, Americas Quarterly published my article “Twitter saves lives in Mexico”. Apparently the story hit home to a lot of people because it has since gone viral being republished and shared on social networks and the internet at a massive scale (at least I think so anyways).

 I’m glad so many people have found this story interesting. Here is part of the aftershock:

  1. Within a couple of hours, the piece had gone to #1 Most popular on AQ Online.
  2. NBC San Antonio is going to run a report on it sometime next week.
  3. The story was referenced by Hispanic Tips – Hispanic and Latino News Redefined.
  4. NotiSensor translated it into Spanish and republished it here.
  5. Pakistan Voices discussed and linked the story here.
  6. Global Voices promoted the article via Twitter and their website here.
  7. talked about the article here.
  8. BuzzBox caught the story and linked it through its Twitter account and via its website.
  9. BuzzTracker also found its way to it and promoted it here.
  10. Twitter users have retweeted the story with impacts over 200,000 just on the first day.  

 The most important thing to remember: the story is only possible due to the fact that we have people behind user accounts like @TrackMty, @SPSeguro and @MAGS_SP helping others be safe. Once again, thanks to them.

Twitter saves lives in Mexico


Here is a link to my latest article on AQBlog, titled “Twitter saves lives in Mexico ”  , published on Jun 10th, 2011. Please feel free to visit and comment.

Here is a verbatim copy of it in case you prefer to read it on my blog, though I recommend actually going to the site because of additional content, other blogger’s articles, etc.


The situation of widespread violence in our border states stemming from drug cartel wars and the federal government’s attempt to combat them is well known.  But I would like to share a story of success that truly symbolizes the strength we can find in social unity when coping with the present state of instability.

The people of Monterrey (located in the northeastern part of Mexico) used to consider the southern part of Texas both their playground and their place for shopping. Even after NAFTA made most consumer products readily available within Mexico, the custom of taking a weekend trip to the Rio Grande Valley or destinations such as San Antonio, Austin or Corpus Christi remained.

That is, until people became too afraid to travel on the Mexican highways near the border. The past couple of years have seen a sharp decline in tourists willing to risk their lives to pass through towns like Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo, Río Bravo, and Matamoros—all overrun by the cartels. In Monterrey, too, people are less willing to be out on the town after hours. They are afraid of being caught in the middle of a fight between rivaling cartels or criminals and authorities.

However, due to the proliferation of new social media (specifically Twitter) people are now better equipped to cope with their fears. Local anonymous heroes have emerged and created accounts such as @TrackMty, @SPSeguro and @MAGS_SP that are used to warn people about risk zones and specific attacks in real time. Each citizen who follows these users becomes a non-official reporter. And with the widespread popular response to these new accounts, the result is eyes and ears everywhere of people willing to invest a couple of minutes to warn others of danger and lessen the possibilities of innocent people being caught in the crossfire.

Here’s how it works. The person witnessing an attack tweets it to one of these accounts, which is then re-published to a massive audience.  Thanks to this non-paid service we have been able to avoid a number of risky situations by rerouting our course while going from point A to point B. For example, in a matter of seconds, a warning shared by @TrackMty reaches a 40,000-person audience.

The local newspaper EL NORTE, spearheaded a similar strategy for securing highway travel during holiday seasons by promoting the use of a series of hashtags (keywords) on Twitter such as #carreteralaredo and #carreterareynosa (the highways to Laredo and to Reynosa) for reporting incidents on these main roads going to major border towns.

I have witnessed this Twitter warning system firsthand. In traveling through Laredo with my family recently I felt a bit more protected every time a notification came in from a traveler a few miles in front of me noting that there was no danger ahead. With no hidden agenda and nothing to earn from it, users I have never met such as @Gabsinelli, @labellayellibro and @lacandanosa kept me and my family safe during the trip. All I can do is publicly thank them for it. Following suit, I repaid the favor and used the appropriate hashtags to provide similar information for the benefit of those traveling behind me.

The social media boom has sparked revolutions in some countries. In Mexico, it brings us together and provides an opportunity to show solidarity in our common challenge facing urban violence. When credibility in state and municipal law enforcement is as tarnished as it is in Mexico, civil society finds new ways to try to secure itself.  

To all of those who selflessly participate in this chain of collaboration and communication for the better good, thank you.

*Arjan Shahani is a contributing blogger to AQ Online. He lives in Monterrey, Mexico, and is an MBA graduate from Thunderbird University and Tecnológico de Monterrey and a member of the International Advisory Board of Global Majority—an international non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of non-violent conflict resolution.

A New Year’s Resolution for Mexico


Here’s a link to my most recent article on AQBlog, titled “A New Year’s Resolution for Mexico”

 Date published: Jan 5th, 2011 I hope you find it interesting. Please feel free to comment.

Here’s a copy of it:


Mexico is the second most corrupt country in Latin America. That’s not an award countries usually strive for but it is, according to UNAM’s Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales (the National Univeristy’s Social Research Institute, or IIS), the disgraceful situation Mexico finds itself in at the start of 2011.

On January 3, UNAM released a press package in which they declared that according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index and the Latinbarómetro indicators, Mexico is only led by Haiti as the most corrupt nation in the region. IIS’s Corruption and Transparency Research Coordinator Irma Eréndira Sandoval Ballesteros explained that throughout Latin America “Mexicans are considered extremely corrupt in terms of public and private practices.”

TI’s 2010 Corruption Perception Index report explains that 75 percent of people believe that Mexico’s corruption has increased in the last three years. Political parties, police, Congress, and the judiciary top the list of corrupt institutions in our country (considered extremely corrupt), followed by media, businesses, organized religion and NGOs.

Sandoval Ballesteros reported that while the 2003 creation and further strengthening of IFAI (Instituto Federal de Acceso a la Información y Protección de Datos, Federal Institute for Information Access and Data Protection) has been a significant progress in terms to access to information, transparency has done little in battling corruption and has been marginally useful in creating a public conscience. In her own words, “if Mexico is not a leading nation in political and economic terms, it is because corruption has not allowed it and has become an obstacle to possible progress.”

According to Transparency International, 50 percent of the people surveyed in their 2010 report worldwide consider that anticorruption policies put forth by government are and will be ineffective. This number is rather conservative for Mexico if you look back at recent history and try to identify one big successful case of combating corruption by our government (hint: there are none). This leaves us with an unavoidable truth: lowering corruption levels cannot be left up to the government. Each and every one of us—as members of Mexican society—has to play a part. We should not forget that while political institutions show the worst cases of corruption, businesses, churches and NGOs aren’t in the clear either.

As with many cases, our hope for the future lies in education. And in this case, I don’t mean building better schools, but better educating our children so that they are less likely to be what we are collectively: a corrupt generation which frustrated by the system, turned to its loopholes to try to navigate through it instead of changing and uprooting it.

Now you can tell a child not to be corrupt but this is a lesson we need to teach by example. For this reason, I propose that instead of (or ideally in addition to) losing five pounds, reading more and smiling, all Mexicans declare that our new year’s resolution for 2011 will be to not exercise in any form of corruption. I propose that we no longer bribe public officials to avoid a speeding ticket. No more tax evasion even though we know how badly the government manages its collections (creating one problem does not solve another). No more paying $2 to a street peddler for a pirate DVD movie or a copied music CD (who by the way will give part of his profits to organized crime and drug cartels). No more negligence in our duty to monitor and demand effectiveness from our local congressmen and women, especially in terms of how they allocate funds and determine contracts for public construction. No more questionable practices in the companies we work for (I invite businesspeople to take and abide by the Thunderbid Oath).

Keeping this resolution will cost time and energy of each and every one of us, but we have to believe that our kids will thank us for it. Most corrupt nation, second only to Haiti? This has to be a wakeup call. This has to lead us to action. As Mohandas Gandhi is famously quoted for saying, we need to “be the change we want to see in the world.”

*Arjan Shahani is a contributing blogger to He lives in Monterrey, Mexico, and is an MBA graduate from Thunderbird University and Tecnológico de Monterrey and a member of the International Advisory Board of Global Majority—an international non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of non-violent conflict resolution.