If you’re a farmer on social media, chances are you’re a little bit bitter. I am. It’s really hard not to be when you see all of the misinformation shared back and forth. It’s pretty impossible to keep your cool when people who have never stepped foot on a farm spread stories about how horrible you are to your animals and how little you care for them while you’re the one out in the barn until 1 a.m. actually caring for them. So, I completely understand when I see a farmer or ag enthusiast leaving comments on those posts trying to defend the industry they love. I love that industry, too — which is why I keep on scrolling.
I mean come on, we’ve all been sucked into a fight in the comments section, right? It’s like a train wreck, you can’t look away. Usually, by the time I scroll on, I’m shaking my head and thinking that all parties involved are idiots. As someone who has been on the receiving end of activist comments, I truly appreciate when others in ag jump into my defense. It’s touching. But it’s also, in my opinion, the wrong approach.
What begins as the best intentions, quickly turns into what I like to call the “Ag mob mentality.” We’re passionate. There are so few of us that it doesn’t take much to want to jump to each other’s defense, but it’s just making us all look bad. First, you’ll never change an activist’s mind by arguing with them on social media. Secondly, even if they’re not commenting, liking, or sharing, so many more people than you think are watching that post. And they’re the people who don’t know what to think. It all seems a little too sensational to believe, but they also don’t know enough about farming to just brush it off. Then they see some farmers going off in the comments, and passion becomes aggression. They don’t even try to reach out when they have questions because no one wants to approach an aggressively angry person.
Honestly, the solution is pretty easy. Choose kindness. If you have to leave a comment, don’t respond to a mean or crazy one. Just leave something positive and walk away. And please, stop making fun of and putting down people for not understanding. It’s not their fault that they don’t understand what we do; it’s ours. We like to say that consumers are disconnected, but maybe we are. It’s so easy to become completely immersed in this agricultural community that we forget everyone didn’t grow up just knowing that corn turns brown before we combine it.
So, in summary, let’s stop being jerks and just keep the comments in our heads. It’ll make everyone’s lives a little bit nicer.
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.