Nowadays social media are the most important instrument to empower citizens to participate in a democratic dialogue on constructive reforms, becoming even more influent respect to the television, newspapers and the radio.
I come from Italy and I live in the area recently known as “Terra dei fuochi” or “Terra dei veleni”, because of the problem of toxic waste illegally buried or burned in the fields of our region by a criminal organization called Camorra, together with corrupt local politicians. This tragedy has led to thousand people dead or seriously affected by cancer, due to the venomous residue which are poisoning vegetables, aquifers, atmosphere as well as animals that graze in the field above mentioned.
Even tough this problem has been fighting for four years by some local journalists,environmental associations, doctors, local committees and the activist-priest Don Patriciello, only in the last few weeks – thanks to the social media, and in particular the facebook fanpage “La Terra dei Fuochi non è sola“ – the truth has reached people all over Italy and all over Europe, raising social and environmental awareness. How has it been possible? In a very simple way! Terra dei Fuochi Committee asked some influent Italian people to write on a paper the name of a town situated in the “triangle of death” with the phrase “… mustn’t die” (in Italian of course). The result is that thousand and thousand people has shared pictures with the name of their own town or with their favorite big-name, learning from that how dangerous is this issue for the whole nation as well as for the Europe itself, since the products of the toxic fields have been exported abroad and famous multinational corporations have bought them in order to make tomato purees or other frozen foods.
Most people have realized the huge environmental damage on our health only after this “cyber mobilization” . Groups of people have started to discuss about the topic on the web, exchanging ideas and opinions and wondering how to tackle the problem. Citizens of the towns involved in the scandal of illegal waste (such as Acerra, Caivano, Frattamaggiore and so on) have contacted the media and members of Public Administration in charge of environmental issues, asking for reforms and funds for garbage disposal and soil recovery. Men, women, young people have established networks on facebook and twitter for collecting information, warnings and pictures of the toxic fires, that are polluting our lives.
Not only social media are informing people unaware of the problem, but they are pushing internet users into action in real life. On the 4th of October – through the facebook fanpage, private emails and posts – up to 50.000 citizens of Terra dei Fuochi rushed peacefully in the streets , moving from the town of Orta di Atella to the centre of Caivano, the toxic heart of the land of illegal waste. Who participated in the march of life noticed black and white balloons as well as tragic banners with the stories who died in the last 10 years.
After this public demonstration the mainstream couldn’t deny the urgency of fighting such a subtle and irreversible genocide and now the official media are dealing with the problem in their talk show, in the news and the Members of Parliament are discussing specific reforms by now.
Is undeniable that the role of social media has now reached a crucial importance for spreading news and educating people and, besides the negative side of this new frontier, it often represents the only way to assert ourselves!
Cover photo by Mario Del Prete;
Article photo from La Terra dei Fuochi non è sola;
Video from Pupia.tv youtube channel.