A Catalan man protests against the dangers of electronic pollution outside Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

A Catalan man protests against the dangers of electronic pollution outside Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Image credit: Chris Velazco

A one-man protest at Mobile World Congress

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    Image credit: Chris Velazco

    Conferences like Mobile World Congress are typically exciting times. Details of glitzy product launches and demos fill websites and newspapers with promises of a better tomorrow. While the world watches Barcelona, though, groups are taking the opportunity to highlight other causes. Public transport workers, for example, are striking this week in the city, causing widespread disruption. It's an effective bargaining chip for those upset with their contracts, as attendees at the world's largest mobile conference have seen simple 10-minute subway journeys turn into two-hour traffic jams.

    The man in the photo above is not a subway worker, and he's not protesting contractual differences. He claims to suffer from fibromyalgia, a syndrome that afflicts people with widespread pain and tenderness, among other symptoms.

    Explaining why he was demonstrating outside Mobile World Congress, he linked this illness to "electrical pollution" -- a non-scientific term that describes the damaging effect of electricity and cellular waves on the human body. The government in Catalonia does not recognize his fibromyalgia, he said, and he is unable to claim disability benefits. He chose not to share his name.

    The Big Picture is a recurring feature highlighting beautiful images that tell big stories. We explore topics as large as our planet or as small as a single life, as affected by or seen through the lens of technology.

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