Bullying used to be something that happened on the playground. Now it’s evolved into a vicious trend that’s spread across the internet, particularly within the realms of social media.
According to a Reportlinker study, 71% of young generations say that they are concerned about cyberbullying—the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.
Unfortunately, livestock farmers aren’t exempt from this.
While social media platforms can be a great place to start a positive conversation about agriculture, it can also be the perfect spot for animal activists to attack livestock producers online. Although many of today’s farmers don’t let the fear of an online animal activist attack stop them from posting, some producers are finding themselves posting less frequently because they are worried a confrontation may arise.
“I want to (post) and don’t fear (activists) per say, but I know I don’t want to waste the time on an online battle,” one farmer writes.
“I am very cautious about what I share and I try to avoid controversial topics because I don’t want to be cyberbullied,” writes another.
For other producers, spreading the positive message about animal agriculture is worth the risk of having animal activists “blow up” the comment section.
“I know how much I love my animals and how much time and energy I put into caring for them, so if someone that doesn’t know anything wants to give me a hard time that’s fine,” Brooke Vanderloop, a Brillion, Wis., dairy farmer says. “I’m sick of constantly being worried about trying to please people that you will never win with. Yes, I want to share positivity and good dairy posts, but when I post something I know is right I don’t care what those people (animal activists) have to say.”
Although the fear of being cyberbullied by animal rights activists is a legitimate concern, it should not hinder producers from sharing the good word about the livestock industry.
If you are worried about an animal activist attacking your social media page, the Animal Ag Alliance offers this tip: It is important to promote a civil conversation on your social media pages. If the comment is referring to agricultural practices, attempt to engage the person. Remember that you represent the agricultural community and you are an important link between urban customers and farmers.