Everyone has an opinion about what happened between Will Smith and Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars. It doesn’t really matter how it happened or whether you care that it happened; it did and it got the whole world chatting.
Unfortunately, this sort of thing happens all the time — it’s just not on Hollywood’s biggest stage for the world to react to. I see it happen online between farmers, and between farmers and consumers.
While it may not be a physical slap (which stings for a few minutes), it is with words — and I think that actually cuts deeper and hurts longer.
I’m talking about how we interact with each other as agriculture professionals and how we interact with consumers.
It seems when something happens on a farm, such as an activist attack, a serious weather problem, or just bad luck, other farmers take swipes about the size of the farm or the employees or the farm’s setup and operation (even if it is in a different part of the country). All I can think is: “Why?”
Why do that in front of a consumer on social media who doesn’t understand farming and who sees farmers as hard-working, friendly, and salt-of-the-earth people who would do anything to help another person? This just confuses them.
But it can be even worse when a farmer reacts with anger to a consumer’s question or comment. There is so much missing from online conversations that you really need to understand more about where the consumer is coming from before firing back something you might later regret.
When a farmer takes a hit from the weather, an activist organization, or bad luck, the last thing they need is an opinion from another farmer about what they should or shouldn’t have done. They need support and help from the farming community. And if you don’t want to give it because you have issues with them, then take the high road. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. It doesn’t help anyone.
When a farmer believes he or she is being attacked by a consumer, make sure you really understand what they are saying. Check to make sure they aren’t an activist — if they are, then just delete the comment and move on; you don’t have to waste your time. If they are just a concerned consumer, then take the time to ask more questions and find out what they are really concerned about and where they got their information before responding with how you do things on your farm.
While this one slap got the world talking about how we handle our emotions and reactions, it’s also a good time to look at yourself and how you handle talking with others in ag and outside of it.
If you need help managing social media for your farm, your local and national dairy checkoff can help — please reach out to them via www.usdairy.com/for-farmers/local-checkoff or me at email@example.com.