I have spent around a third of my life in Argentina, a third in the USA and a third in Spain. While I have friends from all over the world, most of my friends are from these three countries. And there is a very big difference in the tone of their social media commentaries. My American friends talk about their lives in a positive tone and are in love with innovation, with ways of making the world a better place. Occasionally, generally at election time, they speak about politics.
My Argentine and Spanish friends, on the other hand, share an obsession with local politics that makes reading most of their social media commentaries tedious and sad. I am so tired of their whining that at this point I am actively looking for ways to filter out of my social media for political commentary. Both countries suffer from similar problems, an inept and corrupt leadership that makes it hard for citizens to move on with their lives. The tone of the commentaries is always something like “I can’t believe that such and such politician would say or do such a crazy wrong thing”. Most of my friends are disgusted by all politicians and complain across party lines. In the case of Argentina there are still a few who love the Kirchner government while most by now hate it. In Spain there is a general sense of embarrassment for all politicians that is more realistic but the conversation about them never ends. There is always some new topic, lately it is the Barcenas corruption scandal.
People in Spain and Argentina never seem to come to the conclusion that their political class is just rotten and probably will always be like that, and that they can either emigrate or put up with it. They are like children of divorced parents whose only obsession is for their parents to get together again. And that they never will. But as children of divorced parents can overcome the trauma and thrive, so can citizens of these nations. Argentines, Spanish and citizens of all troubled nations (which all countries are to some extent) should learn to live well in their own countries in spite of their political classes, something that is actually very doable. But in order to do this they have to stop talking, commenting or getting involved in political discussion, and focus that energy instead on their families, friends and especially on their work. I can give you countless examples of Argentines and Spaniards who have done amazing work in spite of the crisis. The most striking example is Amancio Ortega who, working out of a little town in the northeast of Spain, La Coruña, has managed to become the third wealthiest man in the world (net worth estimated at $55 billion ahead of Warren Buffet) building Inditex. On a smaller scale, the same can be said about Marcos Galperin, an entrepreneur who is building Mercado Libre into a multi-billion dollar company from Buenos Aires, or my own company Fon, which we built in Madrid and is now the largest WiFi network in the world. And Spain has many more large and thriving companies that are ignoring the political impasse and moving on. Mango, the fashion retailer, is another example. And in other fields like the arts, movies, architecture, fashion, technology, science, many productive, creative and extremely smart Argentines and Spaniards have decided to focus on their expertise and are managing to thrive in spite of the negativity that surrounds them.
So my advice to friends who live in troubled countries is to ignore politics. To stop blaming their environment for their shortcomings and to move ahead in life never even mentioning Kirchner or Rajoy and other political “leaders”.
In the meantime as a favor to me, if you know of a way to filter political commentary in Spanish away from my Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter do let me know. I just want to know what my friends are up to, or what they are doing. Not what the Spanish and Argentine politicians are up to or doing, because their ability to screw up their countries out of ineptitude and/or greed is endless.
Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars
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