'Macra needs to compete with Netflix to tackle rural isolation'- president elect Duffy

Thomas Duffy on the family farm in Maghera, Co Cavan. Photo: Lorraine Teevan
Thomas Duffy on the family farm in Maghera, Co Cavan. Photo: Lorraine Teevan
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Macra needs to compete with Netflix in order to reduce rural isolation of young people and recruit new members, president elect Thomas Duffy has said.

Mr Duffy said that in the past that Macra had to compete with other community groups and clubs in order to recruit members but now it has to compete with streaming apps like Netflix, which currently has over 250,000 subscribers in Ireland.

He said that while streaming apps and social media have many positive benefits, he thinks they are causing people in rural areas to become more detached and disconnected from each other.

“Young people are becoming more detached from communities. There’s an epidemic of loneliness out there and an increasing number of people becoming isolated from each other and people are looking for entertainment through apps like Netflix.

"We need to compete with that now if we want to reduce isolation of young people,” the dairy farmer said.

“It’s not just Netflix that’s the issue, I’m just using that as a point of reference. These apps aren’t the cause of loneliness but they are the symptoms.”

Mr Duffy added that Macra needs to work harder at engaging new members to come to meetings and events.

He said the issue of young people becoming isolated and choosing to stay in rather than socialise and meet people is a wider societal issue not just in rural areas but urban areas too.

“Macra is dedicated to the idea of being positive about the future and being active in life rather than passive. Sometimes we get new members and at the first few meetings they don’t say a word but in a year or two they are up on stage public speaking or doing other activities,” explained Mr Duffy.

“Members recruit other members and empower other members to join. You can run the best recruitment advertising campaign in the world but nothing beats a member ringing up someone and asking them to join.

"The worst thing that can happen is that you won’t come back."

Mr Duffy, who is an agricultural advisor and dairy farmer near Virginia, Co Cavan is due to be officially sworn in as Macra president at the organisation’s AGM in Athy this weekend.

He will take over from current president, James Healy.

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