I rarely dip my toes into controversial subjects here, preferring to fill my pages with stories about the history and archaeology I get to wander around in, the breathtaking seascapes and landscapes I soak in everyday, or about the warm, generous and kind people I call my friends. It’s not that I’m blind to the city’s problems, it’s just that there seems to be enough bad press about Naples out there to go around.
I rarely respond to it, but this weekend it hit a fevered pitch. Doing a search of “Naples, Italy” on Twitter, my results page filled up with tweets about the city’s latest trash crisis. (To be fair, we should probably qualify that and say the Province of Naples, as the trash crisis involves not only the city, but the entire Province.) There were hundreds if not thousands of tweets and retweets of the same handful of articles that were written about the situation over the last several days.
The articles, brief summaries that provided no in-depth analysis of the issue didn’t surprise me, but the numbers of tweets and retweets of them did. I check the Naples, Italy search column several times a day and I rarely see any tweets about Naples except from a handful of people who write about it on a regular basis and from the occasional traveler.
My first reaction was to remain silent. I didn’t want to feed the frenzy, nor did I want to comment on an issue I don’t feel qualified to weigh in on. I won’t pretend for a minute to know or understand all of the underlying politics or where the onus lies and prefer to leave that to experts like Napul’e and Naples Politics to debate. But beyond that, I prefer to focus on the more positive aspects of this city. Maybe I’m naive, maybe I have my head stuck in the sand, or maybe, I just feel protective of this city I have come to love.
Those of us who live here know all too well how serious this “trash crisis” is and I know that putting it in the spotlight just might help move the powers that be into action. Lord knows this situation needs to be resolved, and fast. But at the same time, this crisis doesn’t, nor should it define Naples. Yet if I’d never been here before and was contemplating a trip, a quick search on twitter would have definitely steered me the other way. So I have to wonder, did this weekend’s tweet storm help the situation or was it just another assault on the city’s reputation?
I hope it is the former, but my guess is it is the latter. In the frenzy of tweets that filled the twitter waves this weekend, the name Naples became synonymous with trash and that is a shame. Yes, there is a trash crisis, and as much as I’d like to paint a rosy picture the sad fact of the matter is that trash is building up on the streets. And yes, protestors have clashed with police over the state of the current landfill and the Government’s plans to build a second one. It is a complex issue that it is negatively effecting the residents of this city and definitely worthy of reporting. But unfortunately, in the 140 character world we live in, the sound byte that will be taken away about Naples is trash.
I am sure that the trash crisis will be resolved in the short-term and hopeful for the long-term, but I fear that the sound byte will linger on long after the trash is gone. Either way, I will go back to doing what I do best, writing about all of the wonderful things that make Napoli “La città piu bella del mondo.” Who knows, maybe someday one of those articles will get as much play.