Social Media Down on the Farm

USA Today has an interesting piece online about farmers starting to use social media technology to talk about what they do and network with other farmers. We’ve all been sent the YoutTibe videos of “atrocious” farm conditions but that’s only one side of the story. Now, agricultural workers are stepping up and stepping in with their side of the story.

“There is so much negative publicity out there, and no one was getting our message out,” said Ray Prock Jr., a second-generation Central California dairy farmer whose blog posts and tweets relay information on everything from emergency drills for handling manure spills to lactose intolerance.

“This is where my family lives — I care for the air, and the water, the environment, the cows,” Prock said, walking through the open, airy barns. “This is what I wish I could show people.”

“We weren’t part of the conversation,” Prock said. “And if we aren’t telling our story, other people will, and they’ll tell it the way they want to.”

One-sided story telling is extremely problematic. It tends to have a very strong bias because the context and counter-points have been completely removed. The source of those videos can be suspect, too – it’s not that what you’re seeing didn’t happen, it’s that the context of the larger story is gone. One cow being mistreated is a horrifying thing to watch, but that’s one out of nine million dairy cows in the United States. How are the rest of them being treated?

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