Navigating The Farm On Social Media

Reader Contribution by Darby Weaver and Sun Dog Farm
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I always look around and think to myself what an interesting time it is to be alive (as if any other time would not be.)  We have arrived at a place that only scifi novels could have predicted and looking into the future, we know that inconceivable realities are bound to manifest.  I walk around my farm with a tiny computer in my pocket that is more talented at most things than I am myself and I spend little to no time thinking about how our relationship may be changing who I am.

There is a call to some in our world today to slow down our development and disassociate from screens, streams, and the endless consumption of media.  We all seem to have the shared understanding that there is such a thing as too much, yet walking that fine line can be difficult. Where kids are concerned, ascertaining what the benefits of reduced screen time are versus what level of responsibility we have over introducing our youth to the communications and technologies that will dominate their adult lives is a difficult spread to maneuver.

I bring this very broad and large question mark down to the level of my very personal relationship with Social Media in farming culture and the confusion only deepens.  The internet has allowed the regenerative-agriculture movement to connect in unimaginable ways through videos, podcasts, webinars, and instagram. The young individuals going into farming today have a world of resources at their fingertips shared by experienced growers all over the globe.  The instagram hashtags, follows, and likes have sprouted a new form of community that ties individuals together who may be farming in rural areas where the sense of local community vanished with the consolidation of agriculture in our country.

This sense of community gives growers the validation they need to continue.  It gives them a place to shine and support one another and these beautiful expressions of the human experience cannot be discounted.  Not to mention, the free advertising can build a business overnight.

On the other hand, Social Media has been known to get thrown out of balance within the individual human experience.  Have you heard the saying, “Use Social Media, don’t let Social Media use you.”? I have spoken to many growers that share that Social Media has actually been an added pressure at different times in the season due to our very natural tendency to compare ourselves with others.  When everyone is showing the best versions of their operations on Instagram, sometimes the early Spring season can develop an unnecessary level of self doubt. I have even found myself lost in a battle of self worth over the dopamine-adrenaline rush of making content that people want to consume, and failing to pull it off.

There is also the tendency towards addiction.  Those of us who struggle with addictive personalities may find that our relationship with Social Media starts to take root deep in the self identity where it becomes very difficult to pull out.  This root thrives on our egoic notions and can develop and enhance negative thought patterns and behaviors. Consuming podcasts and media all day long in the field has the added potential threat of distracting us from our farm operations themselves.  With so many good ideas on the market and so many new innovations to try, we can find ourselves endlessly trying to find the secret potion that will make us successful while slowly falling out of tune with our landscape.

Farming is a very sensation-based occupation.  Many of the observations that are key to unlocking the matrix of sustainability in our farm organisms have to be experienced by the body in full to be learned.  We have to see things, yes, but we also have to feel things, taste things, hear the present moment blooming or buzzing, and take this information as a check in to the availability of vitality within our living systems.  There is a dance farmers do with the landscape and sometimes we’re better partners when we don’t have airpods in our ears.

And here I am with all of these thoughts and no conclusions.  I can’t deny the beautiful things Social Media has brought into my personal and professional lives.  The world has opened up to me and so many amazing people have become what feels like family across the great expanse of the growing web.  I have been able to learn so much, share so much, and have felt heard at times when that was a very important part of my healing process. With all of these wonderful things, I have also struggled to understand what it all really means.  I watch the documentaries about the Fyre Festival and laugh and laugh and also look in the mirror to see what shadowy parts are reflected in me.

I write this today not to take a stance on Social Media or its use, I write it more as a check in.  How are we doing with it? Has anyone found a relationship style that works for them and doesn’t appear to interfere with being present in their daily lives?  Have the pros outweighed the cons when used as a marketing tool for your farming operation? Am I the only one who feels like this situation is a doozy and needs discipline to be controlled?  

As technology continues to evolve with humanity, we will have to consider how it is changing who we will become in the future.  It is a part of us now, and I hope that we can use it to mimic the great sentience that threads our natural world together. I hope we can find the balance that brings us our highest potential and we don’t get too distracted by our desire to be, or seem to be, doing everything right.  You’ll still be able to find me on it and just know, when you look through my feeds, that I’m just a girl in the world making mistakes and making guesses at what this life is all about.

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