Tuesday, 17th July 2018
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Michael Garland,

bizBoost Chair,

Waterford Business Group

The truth is a powerful thing, as nobody expects it!

In our world of instant news, via 24-hour satellite TV and social media, it is an interesting debate as to whether or not we are influenced by what is real or fake. We all know that The Donald has been making hay, by constantly trumpeting on about "Fake news". He has singled out every news channel for his twitter treatment. In fact, I am beginning to wonder if there is a news source that The Donald hasn’t targeted?

Finding the truth in news stories and our day to day lives, for that matter, is becoming harder and harder to unravel. As examples, the Facebook revelations last week and the data harvesting of all our information, by companies likes Cambridge Analytica. Were we really so surprised, to find out that the wee annoying, pop-up adverts and messages that appear on our social media pages are targeted directly at us? We’re certainly not that stupid, or are we?

Are we really that easily suckered? I’d like to think that the majority of people, who used social media are savvy. Savvy enough to know that whatever they looked at, posted or registered for is being "Gathered" or "Harvested" by someone. Chief amongst them all has to be Facebook itself. No matter what settings you opt out of, your information is ALL traceable and therefore collectable. The fact that this has a monetary value means that other third party companies, can purchase that statistical data and sell it on to their clients for "Marketing purposes".

I have actually taken the time to look at the information that pops up on all my social media pages. I must confess, no doubt to the joy of Mrs Garland, that the majority of messages and images are relating to bikes, at this precise moment. Nothing more or nothing less, just bikes and bike paraphernalia! There are no political messages or African Princes offering me a share in millions of Dollars. Maybe I am the exception to the rule, or are the vast majority of us viewing these adverts as just annoyances? In truth, how many of us actually read these adverts? Then immediately rush to the old internet and buy said product or service? I couldn’t see many, if any, of my friends or colleagues using those ads as a call to action.

The truth is that some, a small minority, will be influenced by those social media pop-ups. Even fewer of us will be inclined to change our voting habits. I sometimes feel that these stories are as much about fake news, as the fake news itself.

It’s the truth attracts our attention. It is always a surprise to realise that we are in fact being told legitimate news or information. It somehow comes as a shock to our system. We are so used to being delivered clever spin, by people who are paid thousands of Euros, Sterling or Dollars, to circulate degrees of truth.

Take the 2040 National Development Plan. Something we all need to support, if there is even a modicum of truth contained in said document. We’ve become very excited about the fiscal funds being given for Waterford’s North Quays. However, they haven’t so far. There is a process to complete and before any funds secured our application must meet the criteria.

That promise of a Technological University for the South East? No matter how this is promoted, a degree from a Technological University will not hold the same prestige, as a degree from a mainstream Irish "University".

We were enthused with the Capital Sports Grants. Announcing that participation in sport would be increased. Thousands of Euros ended up in private members clubs and fee paying schools? "Build it and they will participate", is NOT supported by the evidence. Evidence of non-participation, confirmed by ESRI. This money would have been better spent on engagement programmes and encouragement.

One man’s truth, is another’s obfuscation, distortion or even equivocation. Take the Brexit border issue with the North. Take the continuing debates and the various positions adopted. Another topic, for another day, but rest assured the truth is out there.

Whistleblowers, paper trails and computer wizardry, uncover the "Cover ups!"

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