Irish Media Nation by John Lee
Twitter hashtag brings out positive thinking and reality checks in Ireland
Posted on Friday, December 10, 2010 at 03:27 PM
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Ireland is world news hotspot for all the wrong reasons. Traditional media from around the globe is declaiming on the dire economic situation, backed by a Greek chorus of social media chatter. A new Twitter hashtag, #positiveireland, has surfaced, attracting a real time digital stream of good Irish economic news to counter the prevailing Celtic doom, gloom and ire (represented the video surging on YouTube linked to below). Here's a sample of what they're tweeting with the #positiveireland hashtag:
“Financial services firm Citi is to create 250 jobs in Dublin and Waterford”
“300 construction jobs with €37m health center”
“more good news, 250 job places in Citi FS for Dublin and Waterford”
“US Tech investors Vanitas on why they're moving to Dublin in spite of it all”
I’ve tweeted using the #positiveireland hashtag, but triggering an economic revival is an awful lot to ask of 140 characters. Wondering how people were reacting to this accentuate-the-positive effort, I posted a query--“Have you noticed the #positiveireland Twitter hashtag?”--on the “Irish in Media” Linkedin group. Patrick J. O’Rourke, who operates Sleeping Warrior, a video production business in Co. Leitrim, provided this heartfelt dispatch from the front lines:
"Yep, I have it up in Tweetdeck. I have to say, though, it's mainly used by affluent people who don't seem to be affected as yet by the current state of the Irish economy, or covert Fianna Fail activists etc. The way this budget is going to hit people…that is the poorest first and hardest, it's going to be difficult for them to find anything positive to focus on. Many people have hit their tipping point now and their existence is looking dire for the foreseeable future. This country is paying the price for a handful of corrupt and greedy bankers gambling, with the taxpayer picking up the tab for the losses of their private companies. That's a luxury that nobody else in business has. Now the economy is collapsing from the bottom up as all the self-employed and small companies go bust as they can't get paid for work done or any credit from the banks to fulfill existing orders for products or services. They are losing their houses in the courts as the bankers and bondholders laugh and breathe a sigh of relief. The only positivity they will find is looking forward to emigration, as there will never be any more future for them in Ireland due to the debt they have been left with by their own property loss, bad debt and the banks.
"…people who are on social welfare, the low paid, our education and health systems are being asked to pay for the financial well being of bondholders. That is immoral. I'm watching carnage all around me here in rural Ireland and people are angry...and rightly so. What's the point in everyone remaining positive whilst being cold and hungry, to rebuild an economy wrecked by a few greedy rich people when exactly the same would happen again? No positivity or hope there.
"Of course people will reply "it was a bubble and it burst". Yep...that's true. Ordinary people had to buy houses to live in that cost about 500% more than they were worth and borrow accordingly with reckless lending from the banks. That in itself became slavery to the financial institutions. Young people wanting to buy a house had to mortgage their parents’ and even grandparents’ houses to get a roof over their head to supply the financial institutions with the inflated collateral they needed to blag their way on the markets. People believed the government when they were told they'd gain from it in the long term. They all worked hard. What have they got now? Negative equity, no employment and a session in the courts to look forward to, to lose their house.
"Whilst I like to believe in positivity, it is going to be difficult for most people without justice. Our corrupt and negligent politicians are still in power. They supported Anglo-Irish bank becoming bigger than the country by hands-off regulation and took the "donations". When the crunch came with the IMF they even screwed up that negotiation by incompetence...again. I doubt if the opposition can do any better...or any of the politicians we have. People have always gone into politics in this country for the wrong reasons. People outside of Ireland probably will never understand what Irish politics really are, or what doing business in Ireland is really like. You have to live here to learn to survive.
"Positivity needs a base...a sound foundation or it's false hope. The only way people now are going to find any positivity is by someone...anyone...coming up with a way to revolutionize our political and financial systems, as well as bring those responsible to justice. I think that will have to happen, even if it means people on the streets to demand it, which will happen when the property and water charges come in. That would give people real hope, hope of change...and needs good brains, courage...and...a hashtag."
Many thanks Patrick for taking the time to write this thorough and sincere reply and for letting me share it here on IrishMediaNation.
Media Pings: For a much saltier take on the Irish economic mess, check out this Canadian "man on the street" YouTube interview with an Irish ex-pat who lays it all out there in a stream of NSFW soundbites. Going viral with 336,661 hits at post time--see how many more hits Ireland's latest internet hero has by now...Congrats to the Irish American Writers and Artists for the recent Irish-Mexican Alliance, a innovative fundraiser for the Committee to Protect Journalists and proof that Mariachi and Ceili can mix….Writer/filmmaker Sadhbh Walshe was there--she just had a haunting tale,“Killing a Dead Horse in Ireland,” published in the New York Times... Also among the hundreds on hand was freelance Irish journalist, Frieda Klotz who is featuring a diverse roster of guest writers right now at her IrishGirlAbroad blog.