Is Hugo Chávez really running his country by Twitter?

Hugo Chavez world leader and twitter user

Courtesy of guapacho.net

The Guardian today wrote that Hugo Chávez, president of Venezuela, is using “Twitter as a tool to govern remotely while he undergoes cancer treatment in Cuba”.

This is the sort of headline that should have us social media agency types  delighted at how significant and revolutionary this is. Or should it?

As the host of  his own talk show, Chávez is no stranger to amplifying his voice via the media, but this story in itself feels a bit over-hyped. Is he really “running the country”?

It looks like he is merely using Twitter to talk about things that are happening in the real world, from his own meetings and decisions to his reactions to Venezuela’s football matches.

This is not insignificant - the reality is that a world leader is using social media to give his citizens (and the rest of the world) an insight into his life, and bringing us closer to him. Not only that, he can demonstrate that even while hospitalised, he remains involved and relevant.

The truth of the matter is that Twitter makes a great hook for news stories, and the hype that surrounds it is displacing the reality, which is extraordinary enough as it is.

It’s more than significant to think that world leaders are tweeting about their lives, and we shouldn’t de-value that with exaggerated claims.This is something amazing in itself -  a real change in behaviour and an opportunity to see a side of people we could not before. We don’t need to over-hype that.