The Spanish Revolt: defying the crisis from below

3. The role of Social networks: dialectics between physical and virtual dimensions in the 15-M.

Regarding the important issue of social networking, we will try a dialectical approach to the phenomenon. In other words, an approach that maintains the tension between the “positive” and “negative” aspects of the virtual innovations (we’ll try to dodge the “fetishist” tendency and the “denier” tendency – which is blind to the changes introduced by the virtual space).

The matter of the representation of repression has been a key element to spread mobilization. The eviction of Sol Square on May 17 2011[8], the eviction of Catalonia’s Square[9]and the tomaelcongreso demonstration of September 25th 2012[10]are three interesting examples. They are also examples on the way social media has been the principal tool in disseminating such representation (videos in Youtube from cameras inside the crowd, going through the same experience as the protesters, sharing with them insecurity feelings). We will quote just three data: between April and May 2011 the use of Internet in Spain increased by 20% (and the network N-1 –created by the 15-M- increased from 3,000 to 40,000 users). Other key fact is that 94% of those who attended the protest on 15M had a social networking profile. Finally, when the movement was on its peak, an 82% of the Spanish population got information about 15M through social networks, a great percent compared to the 33% who used television and the 23% who used the press[11]. It is obvious, then, that the Internet has played a key role[12] .The information created on Internet is decentralized, flows with interpretative comments of multiple sources, comes from different social sectors, and challenges the one-way procedure of the classical mass media (connected to economic and political power groups[13]).

These images about the revolt and repression were not only emitted by the media oligopoly, but also by the traditional Spanish media; this two sources distorted the videos and images in order to discredit or criminalize the protest. Looking over some of the struggles in this cycle of movements (in Slovenia, Turkey and Spain at least) we can conclude that this sequence is common: uprisings, criminalization, and creation of massive networks of information outside of the classical mass media[14].

Despite the lack of economic resources, the movement has been able to generate at full speed its own channels and methods of expression to legitimize their own social struggles. From their own websites (as “”), radio (“Agora Sol Radio”) to the alternative press (existent press which has seen its number of readers[15] exponentially increased or directly press created as a result of the mobilizations[16]).

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