Social media is one of those trends that is here to stay. Full careers are being developed, and positions being started at companies just for social media managers. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and of course Snapchat. It is difficult to find anyone in the collegiate age group who doesn’t have at least one of these profiles. Same goes for older generations as everyone is wanting to find their old classmates online. You can connect with friends, find information, and even follow your favorite athletes and companies.
So where does it go wrong? The public are believing videos they see on Facebook as fact. A planned, edited, and posed Instagram is taken for reality. Not only is this causing issues with feelings of inadequacy with normal people, but it is also causing even more of a disconnect with the public and agriculture producers.
An infographic of how much chemical is put on a field of wheat? Is taken verbatim as fact. A research article explaining farming practices and chemical compositions? Is taken as false lies spread by the government. People who are removed from the farm, and don’t have anyone to turn to, to ask real questions about why farmers or ranchers do what they do have nothing else to believe but what they see online.
Independent or freelance journalists can write articles describing “horrible” practices by the animal agriculture industry and people will believe it because “It’s published it must be true”. Especially on blogs, freedom of speech mean that anyone can write about anything they want and people will believe it. While there are people who will further research to find out the truth, there are many hot button topics that take some real digging to get to the truth. For example, a quick google search for GMO Truth will have tons of posts come up, most of which are all anti-GMO and spreading lies about what they actually do.
Fear is a huge motivator in the food industry, and the marketers are doing a fantastic job of profiting off the fear they spread to the public. Even a small brand such as labeling food part of the Non-GMO project will make a consumer think there must be something wrong with GMO’s. People are scared of what they do not understand, so they are willing to pay more money to eat supposedly healthier, safer, food for their families.
Food industries are making millions off of the public’s concerns and misinformation. Upcharging the foods they sell with labels such as “Gluten free beef”, “Non-GMO Bananas”, and “Free-range eggs”. These labels are selling the product faster and allowing them to charge more, for the same product.
These ideas are all being enforced by social media, and need to be solved. This disconnect between agriculture producers and the general public is further in that there aren’t as many agriculture advocates on social media as there are mis-informed public. Do your research, don’t take anything you see online as truth. Once you find out the truth, do your best to inform others correctly, start a discussion with the scared mom in the grocery store who is debating between antibiotic free chicken and the unlabeled, still antibiotic free chicken.
Be an agriculture advocate.