Italian Analog Divide

Il digital divide e il progressoThis is the first in a series of translated posts from the previous entries in my blog. They will be seleceted for the topics that may prove of major interest to a wider audience, thus translated into English. Well, let’s start.

There a lot of debate about ‘digital divide’, but the reasons for which so many people live at the fringe of society in Italy are of a deeper ‘analog’ nature.
Italy is, still today, a rural Country, let’s admit it, with all the technological disadvantages deriving from it. People living in cities and principal towns aren’t aware of the frightening size of ‘human mass’ spread into smaller built-up areas where everybody suffers for a shortage of jobs, technology, prospects… it’s true, the big cities’ stress and pollution are also missing in those places, but their inhabitants suffer for a different kind of stress factors. For example, the miles (sometimes several dozens) they must travel to reach public offices and obtain documents made necessary by the abnormal Italian bureaucracy or the miles needed to attend a higher school, the weak (or even missing) signal for mobile phones or television (satellite dishes are a must), or the absence of broadband Internet connections or even difficulties in obtaining a simple phone line at home.
Statistics are very clear: on a totalof 8.101 Italian municipalities there are over 6.000 of them counting less than 5.000 ‘citizens’, while 3.644 of them host about 2.000 ‘souls’ (we’re talking about almost half of Italian municipalities!). But there’s more, because these few thousands of citizens don’t even really exist: yes, it’s true, and it’s because nobody’s taking the trouble of counting the citizens really residing in those municipalities where they ‘officially’ live (for a reason or another). If you don’t know about these ‘rural’ (a very suitable definition, in this case) Italian communities there’s a solid chance you’re asking where are the ‘missing citizens’ resulting in the official counting.
That’s not the real question, anyay. The real question is how can you meet your daily needs in a municipality made of 2000-3000 inhabitants?. If the area is part of a touristic environment, at least for one of its villages, and if the people living there has enough entrepreneurial skills and an ‘education’ in tourism management, chances are that part of the year (let’s say a quarter of it) life is sustainable and incomes are fairly good. In every other case, there are two alternatives: walking hopelessly along to the boundaries of misery or leaving in search of a job (and a future) to be found somewhere else. Our great-grand parents have done it, and our grand parents, too, and even our parents and ourselves. Our children will probably do the same. Sometimes it’s a matter of living a few years far from home, as it was for me (nealry 4 years in Milan, when twenty-some-year old, and almost 3 years in Rome not so long ago). Today’s immigration starts with University studies (sometimes even for high school) and there’s a great chance it continues with the following search for a suitable job, often because young people, having ‘tasted’ a different and more stimulating life in a big city, won’t feel the desire to go back to their small village where life, as we know, has a meaning my generation maybe still finds but new generations won’t be able to see.
I know, I just described the problems, without suggesting any solution. There are, indeed, some ways out and there’s a document published on the Symbola Web site detailing a few of them, all valid in my opinion, even if I believe there’s mainly a need of fighting to make governments ‘see’ this (too) large part of the Country still unknown, and act to limit some unconfortable situations produced, for example, by some monopolies (like the telecommunication one) or help willing and ‘able’ citizens plant the roots for a growth and a change for their fellows.