Meet Tiziana Montalbano

Tiziana Montalbano is an expert in digital communication working as a Social Media and Digital Marketing Editor for the association Parole Ostili and holds a university degree in Communication Sciences.

The revelatory moment

For Tiziana it wasn’t a particular episode that determined here to fight extremism, but rather she noticed that the whole online environment was becoming more and more filled with hate. There was a general difficulty in the management of the social network accounts of the companies. She and some colleagues realized that they needed to change the trend of the communicative style, and as communicators they started to organize themselves. This then became Parole Ostili.

The first victory

The path followed by the manifesto of non-hostile communication is in itself the success. To date they have reached more than 100,000 children/students and 30,000 teachers.

The bumps in the road

But although they had this enormous success in schools, it wasn’t shared by the campaigns that did to convince politicians to change the way they communicate. Only the mayors of Turin and Milan have signed the non-hostile communication manifesto. However, Tiziana is sure that this is a sign that ice is breaking and others will follow.

Coping mechanisms

She considers that her work is not void of stress and the solution to it is to deal with it as a team. Her colleagues and herself are showing constant mutual support among each other.

Extremism explained to a 5-year-old

In schools, Tiziana and her colleagues tried to tell the little ones how to deal with and how to prevent the language of hatred. They did a translation, a rewriting of their poster for children, with a simpler language and with basic concepts that took up the ten points of the original manifesto. For example, principle 5 says that “words are a bridge” there are words that make people laugh and do good, and that make us feel good when we say them. Likewise, hate speech generates pain and suffering.

Extremism explained to family and friends

The language we use and that we have become accustomed to using has become very frail. Even in face-to-face conversations it is now possible to use very aggressive tones. The most aggressive examples are mostly present online, because of the screen, but now also offline is common. Tiziana believe that this should be pointed out to people, not only within one’s group of friends and family, but also trivially in the supermarket.

Confessions of a restless activist

The thing that keeps her going is the conviction that, through constant, continuous and long-lasting educational courses, she and her colleagues can and will succeed in acquiring the right awareness to face and then reduce hate speech. They have already noticed that the new generations are getting used to managing hate situations more and more often. It is a long way ahead and it requires constant perseverance and commitment, but improvements can be made.

Some thoughts for undecided activists

Tiziana believes that responding to and curbing hatred is difficult and that considerable stress must be borne. Even if the non-hostile messages are much larger in numbers than messages of hatred, non-hostility is more silent, it is more discreet. Those who want to engage often do so silently, not visibly. As for the people who want to engage more actively, she suggests finding the “bridge words”. Sometimes, when these words are not found, we must communicate with silence.

Adequate responses in uncomfortable situations

She thinks one can’t adopt strategies to avoid being at risk because being a target is not a decision, so it’s difficult to prevent. One can try to elaborate measures but the truth is that there are no techniques, and the responsibility lies with the aggressor, not the victim.

Challenge your inner activist

Fighint extremism takes a lot of patience. This is an ethical problem, which goes beyond having busy schedules or low economic possibilities. Like any ethical problem, if we recognize its importance we find the time to face it. We must work on awareness, first of all.