If you’re on social media, you know the struggle. Even if you don’t share much about your farm, I know you’ve seen others get attacked and/or ridiculed. The number one reason people don’t start advocating on social media is from fear of being attacked by activists. And let me tell you, I get it.
I was attacked pretty early on in my advocacy career, and they were vicious. They weren’t just disputing my knowledge or information, oh no; they got personal. They were attacking my appearance, my character, and my family. I got death threats in the public comments and private messages. Some of the language they used still makes me shiver. It was awful. I felt violated. I felt like a failure. For an entire week, I was convinced I should just pack it in and admit defeat. And yet, here I am.
Yes, putting yourself out there opens you up to all the internet trolls and their venomous words. But that’s just what they are — words. Those people, those hateful, ridiculous, completely outlandish people, aren’t the ones you’re trying to influence. You’re talking to the new mom who is trying to figure out what kind of milk is healthier and safer for her kid. You’re talking to the kid who just graduated college and is truly making their own food choices, maybe for the first time in their lives! You’re talking to that dude from high school who saw this animal abuse video from PETA but doesn’t believe it’s true because he remembers the 5th grade field trip he took to your farm and knows farmers don’t abuse their animals.
Think of it like a big graph. We, the farmers, are outliers. We believe in what we do and that will never change. They, the activists, are outliers. They believe we are evil and that will, also, never change. It’s allllll the people in the middle you need to worry about. Our job, as farmers and possible advocates, is to get to them first.
I know that feels hopeless. Fighting the algorithm filled with influencers who have 50,000; 100,000; or even one million followers feels impossible. Changing even one person’s mind about agriculture feels like a leaky faucet in a rainstorm. So why even start? Because the middle of the graph is bigger than either end. A drop in the bucket it may be, but anyone who has ever hand milked a cow knows that every full bucket started with a drop.
The author dairies in partnership with her parents and brother at Spruce Row Farm in Pennsylvania. Jessica is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, and since 2015, she has been active in promoting dairy in her local community. You can find her and her 250 Jersey cows on Facebook at Spruce Row Dairy or on Instagram at @seejessfarm.