People have often commended me on how well I respond to negative, rude comments from people on the Internet. Goodness knows I have received some terrible, awful comments because of my work. Things I certainly wouldn’t repeat. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not always perfect when responding to this hatred. I sometimes lose my cool. I sometimes get angry. I sometimes get too snarky (is that possible?).
Having discussions about food and farming can be tough. For all eaters, it is a personal conversation about the substance we put into our bodies every single day. For farmers, it’s also a personal conversation about the blood, sweat, and tears we endure every single day. When someone accuses us of being shills, poisoning people, or producing a bad product, we get automatically defensive. We work hard to make the right decisions to have a sustainable farm, both financially and environmentally. Those negative attacks hit us right in the heart.
The reality is that we cannot and will not ever convince everyone that we’re good people, that the food they’re eating is safe, or that they can trust us. There will always be dissenters. The trick, however, is to approach each conversation with the mindset that the other person can be persuaded and reasoned with. Maybe they just don’t know any better. Maybe they don’t mean to be offensive. Maybe they are just waiting for someone to tell them otherwise. Maybe you are the first person they have ever encountered that has a positive message about modern agriculture.
So, approach those conversations with an open mind and give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Those conversations will undoubtedly always go better than if we respond with anger. Respond with kindness first.
Be a nice human.
Dennis Laughton says
Just because we disagree about something does not mean that we have to hate one another!