We are seeing increasing numbers of ag producers becoming transparent on social media. This, in turn, is causing an increase in the number of nasty “activists” who troll those same well meaning producers. How can we be vigilant in combatting these cyberbullies.
An article on Morning Ag Clips described the increasing pressures being put on producers by anti agriculture cyberbullies. Go to the article to read some of the specific attacks on ag producers. I can assure you, they are pretty disgusting.
This is becoming an ever-growing concern for those producers who are making an effort to be more transparent about their operations online. I, for one, think that this new found transparency is great for the ag industry. We are opening ourselves up to consumers who are eagerly curious about how their food is produced. It helps foster solid producer-consumer relationships. One drawback to this new found transparency is the presence of overzealous activists. How can we as producers remain open and transparent without falling prey to these millitant bullies?
How Did We Get Here?
In 1900, just under 40 percent of the total US population lived on farms, and 60 percent lived in rural areas. Today, the respective figures are only about 1 percent and 20 percent… and those numbers are still shrinking. There is an ever widening gap between those of us who are involved in agriculture and those who consume our products. I recently wrote a post regarding this disconnect. Folks who live away from agriculture tend to be severely misinformed about how food is produced. They tend to get their information from Netflix documentaries and social media, which often tend to contain flawed information. So real producers producing real footage and documentation of everyday farm life is crucial to bridging this gap.
Social Media Is Not Real Life
We often believe social media is a microcosm of society. This could not be further from the truth. Clay Travis of Outkick the Coverage likes to say that social media is the “funhouse mirror” of life. It distorts the truth much like a carnival funhouse mirror distorts your real life image. While its true that 79% of the US population has a Facebook account, those who engage in this sort of rhetoric are a vast minority. On other platforms such as Instagram and Twitter, only 31 percent and 7 percent of the population use those sites, respectively. We have to stop treating these sites as if they are an accurate reflection of real life.
Only Engage With Those Who Have Pure Intentions
In other words, avoid trolls. It’s sad to say that there are folks whose main intention is to get a negative rise out of well meaning folks. When we are attacked for our beliefs, we must sift out those who are just there to argue. We must actively seek those who are actually concerned about the welfare of our animals and the sustainability of our practices. I believe more often than not, we will find that we have lots of common ground with these well intentioned folks.
Be A Good Representative
So many times, these debates bring out the worst of both sides. We must remain steadfast in our integrity when engaging in debate with activists. We must leave the mudslinging for the other side. If not, we have just lowered ourselves and made our entire community look bad. In this era of viral sensations, we may never realize the impact of one sour debate. We have to realize when we are online, we represent an entire community of producers. We must wear that representation as a badge of honor.
We must not stress over these cyberbullies. We have too many other worries to let those not involved in our industry influence us. We have to focus on the things we can control, like our own emotions. We cannot let those emotions dictate our actions. Just like any annoying pest, trolls will eventually go away when not given proper attention.
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