#YouStink: Beirut and Media Waste


Dublin Core


#YouStink: Beirut and Media Waste


Uncovering Beirut's Media Waste


In his article “A City by the Sea: Uncovering Beirut’s Media Waste,” Blake Atwood describes how digital waste is impacting communities around Beirut, Lebanon. Atwood describes how for years Beirut slowly filled with trash as the government failed to take any action to clean up the city. The problem became so bad that a movement known as the #YouStink movement was formed by digital activists to convince the government to take action. The movement was successful and two new landfills were opened at Costa Brava and Bourj Hammoud, locations that were well outside the city and well-suited to handling the massive piles of trash.

However, Atwood reveals that the #YouStink movement only succeeded in protecting the citizens of Beirut proper from the trash build-up and that class divisions prevented lower-income citizens from participating in the movement. Atwood points out that large amounts of the waste produced in Beirut is digital media waste- old phones, broken tablets, busted computers- and all of these objects are taken to the landfills for disposal. As a result, the digital activism which succeeded in freeing Beirut proper from trash build-up has also begun to ruin the surrounding communities. This has led to a damaging situation for lower-income and minority groups in Beirut; for example, the Costa Brava landfill is situated within a minority Shi’a community which is now forced to take the brunt of Beirut’s waste.

The #YouStink movement and its resulting fallout is important to digital culture as it demonstrates the power of digital media to bring social change but also its power to create lasting physical impacts on the world. In an age where many young people have taken up activism online as a means to make a difference, it is important to remember that nothing we do exists in a vacuum. Every action taken online can have effects on the real world, and the mere use of digital technology can have massive unintended consequences for the world around us. How many communities in the US are suffering like Costa Brava? How many in the world? And can we continue to use digital media as a means to bring positive social change for our communities if we are not also considering how our actions are bringing harmful change to others?


Blake Atwood




Oxford University Press


Article was published in 2019


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