Have you heard about this hunting controversy?
This University of Texas Tech student, Kendall Jones, caused quite a stir when she posted photos on Facebook. Apparently, Jones is a fan of hunting and took advantage of the opportunity to snag some exotic animals during a recent trip to Africa. There was immediate outrage by some animal activists and many others on social media. In fact, Facebook actually deleted several of her photos for supposedly violating the posting rules.
Now, the story got completely out of hand, including the start of a “Kill Kendall Jones” page, which Facebook rightly decided to remove.
In light of all the hoopla and buzz about Ms. Jones, another hunting photo emerged and also caused quite a stir. This one:
The photo is clearly of director Steven Spielberg posing with one of the animated robot dinosaurs used in his Jurassic Park movie. Jay Branscomb, who posted the photo, added the quote “Disgraceful photo of recreational hunter happily posing next to a Triceratops he just slaughtered. Please share so the world can name and shame this despicable man.”
To all the rational folks in the world, this is funny. But some people actually took it seriously. They thought he was serious and posted comments reflecting it. (You can read some of the better comments in this article.)
While it would be fun to sit here and have another chuckle at the expense of Facebook users that failed to realize there are no living dinosaurs today, I think the spoof shows a much wider problem.
People actually believe this stuff.
And the worst part is that social media has been littered with anti-GMO, anti-conventional farming, anti-animal agriculture, and anti-whatever else memes. Most of which, by the way, are completely falsified or made up. If someone will believe that a Triceratops was just brutally murdered by a movie director, we’re screwed. What do we think people who are sitting on the sidelines of the biotechnology controversies think when they see one of those ridiculous memes, pictures, or claims? “GMOs cause cancer” is snatched up like a little piece of information and at no point is that statement challenged.
Now, maybe it’s true that after a second glance, someone in this situation could figure out that the joke was on them. Haha. You were tricked. But that doesn’t usually happen with an anti-farming meme. The person sees it and there is no one to make them think twice about, to consider what they’re actually seeing, or to stop and think. It’s just another little seed that the anti’s have planted, which they’re hoping will eventually grow and spread.
The reality is, one we’ve known for quite a while, we have to be the educators. We have to step in and make people think. If all people ever know about farming is based off their social media friends, we’re in big trouble. We need to find new ways to reach people, especially those that are sitting on the sidelines of these issues and haven’t made up their mind. No, we’ll never reach the activists, but we have work to prevent the activists from getting to all those people in the middle first.
That’s why Ag-vocating is so important and that’s why I do it.