Social media has changed the landscape of how we interact with each other so much. It made it easier to connect, but also easier to get under someone’s skin. Being on the other end of a computer means you have no real concept of that person, no feelings either way, and act within a bubble of indifference so that you can call them any names you like. Things you wouldn’t necessarily say to their face.
My views on animal welfare and specifically love of wombats have garnered me various names, the majority of which were flung my way by farmers or people living rural. To string them all together would be something like…
City slicker, latte sipping, greenie vegan hippy.
I have no problem with being called this and wear them with pride. After all, I only earned this by being vocal about wildlife and their welfare. But I did wonder from time to time as I read different stories on social media, why ‘vegan’ is always thrown into the mix when insults like this are dished out towards people whose only crime is to love animals and be concerned for their welfare in a specific situation.
This past weekend I finally understood.
A wildlife group was trying to raise funds for their operations and they decided on a sausage sizzle. Someone who is also vegan found this post and shared it to a variety of vegan pages and a cohort of vegans descended on this poor wildlife group’s page and trolled this post. They all had the same message.
The gist of which was how can you support agricultural activities (meat) to support wildlife who are in the desperate situation they are because of agriculture. Basically selling meat of one dead animal to save another animal.
I can’t disagree with the message. It made me stop and think. But it also did very little for the vegan cause.
Actions like this where a small portion of a group are so idealistic and out of touch with how the world works that they think they can change everything and everyone by pushing their views forcefully onto others, harms their cause more than they are winning any new recruits.
There is a very basic concept that follows you throughout your life, whether in your home, your work, your social media profile or public profile. And that is your credibility. You may have the strongest cause, but if the delivery of your message is hysterical, aggressive, fanatical or overbearing, you have lost your audience. On the other hand, a slightly weaker message might be taken seriously just because the delivery is thoughtful, precise, factual and unemotional.
Food for thought. If we want to win the war against animal cruelty, animal farming, animal endangerment and conservation, think about what you want to say. What you want people to understand and remember you for, knowing that you won’t change everyone’s beliefs and opinions but you might plant a seed. If you want that seed to grow, plant it with compassion, objectiveness and truthfulness.