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Column: We Irish are addicted to 'recession porn'

We all love complaining about bad news – but we need to devote that energy to improving things instead, writes Ed Fidgeon-Kavanagh.

Ed Fidgeon-Kavanagh

RECENTLY I ENDED up watching a documentary over on RTÉ called Departure Day, which showed in detail the extent and effects of emigration in Ireland. In particular, as we all know, it is the younger generation that are being forced to move abroad in the search for jobs.

Keeping an eye on the Twitter stream for the show I noticed that most people’s comments were for the most part sympathetic with the families’ situations as they waved goodbye to their loved ones. However other comments annoyed me so much that I have been driven to write this little rant.

The one tweet in particular that got me angry was this:


This semi-joking anti-Ireland sentiment can be heard day to day in conversations all the time, and the internet is rife with people bemoaning the country as a whole.

On Boards.ie a while back, a comment posted on the topic of “Why is Ireland regarded as a scenic country?” read: “Well we’ve feck all else going for us, so may as well exaggerate what we do have.”

I don’t think it’s funny.

These are not entirely original jokes of course, few of these down-talking references are. It seems to have become very common, if not quite trendy, to badmouth Ireland as a whole. I know comments like these are made in a flippant manner, but all the same it makes me angry.

We live in a great country and we are a great nation of people. We have been subjected to shoddy, incompetent and disastrous management from political parties that have sought popularity and re-election rather than a better Ireland. But the past is the past and we need to get on with it. Playing the blame game – while fun – achieves nothing for our future.

It seems quite trendy nowadays to label Ireland as a ‘shithole’, as being ‘doomed’, ‘wrecked’, and of there being ‘no opportunities’. I don’t think that Ireland deserves to be referred to in these terms. Feel free to call the politicians what you want. But lay off dismissing the entire nation as some sort of laughing stock. Life in Ireland will go on. It may be less prosperous than before, but unless we get taken up in the rapture from above by the flying spaghetti monster, we will still be living here.

And a fine thing that is, because Ireland is a great beautiful country filled with equally great and beautiful people. It is of course unfortunate that some of us will be forced to leave over the coming years, but that is the way it has to be for now. We all know whose fault it is. But this is where we are. The blame game and the slagging of our fine country doesn’t help, it just stops debate on the important stuff. The future.

So my one plea is this. Stop putting so much effort into bitching about those parties and their past actions and put more effort into becoming involved in what they do in the future.

‘An orgy of bad news’

We are all still addicted to recession porn.

I really thought we would be over it by this stage but we aren’t. As a nation we take far too much pleasure in hearing about, and dispensing, bad news, I think we always have done. But now we get an orgy of bad news on a daily basis on pretty much any news stream you’d care to listen or watch. The country is doomed, finished, about to get swallowed up into the centre of the earth etc etc etc.

Of course, good news isn’t as attractive, good news doesn’t sell papers and it rarely makes for good headlines, but we need to find a way of spreading good news as much as is possible. So make sure when you do hear some good news that you tweet it, tell it to a friend or call it in to Joe ‘the Grim Reaper’ Duffy: he probably won’t feature it, but that’s no excuse for not trying. Do whatever you have to but we need to give good news a fighting chance.

Ireland is not a joke and it’s not doomed. It is flawed in ways, but no things in this world are ever perfect.

If I were to try and encapsulate what I have been trying to get across it is this: Ireland is a great country, we are great people. But we really need to stop putting so much of our efforts, thoughts and column inches into blame games and whinge sessions – these actions do nothing to improve our situation, and it’s a national mindset we have to try and stamp out.

Let’s instead put the same quantity of time and effort into thinking about ways to improve our situation, and doing things that help our communities survive and grow. I’m not saying we need to put more effort into how we talk about the country, we just need to redirect it.

Do that and we can make Ireland a country which the poor folk featured on RTÉ’s Departure Day, and the thousands like them, can return to some day in the near future.

Ed Fidgeon-Kavanagh is a frequent tweeter, occasional blogger and chief PowerPoint-er at clearpreso.com.

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Ed Fidgeon-Kavanagh

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