Thursday, June 04, 2015

vegan tension

after another experience where gd was traumatized by some disturbing images on her feeds, i posted the following on facebook, which offended some of my friends:

"you know what, facebook friends? when you post disturbing images without any form of trigger warning, you're being an asshole. have the decency to give others a chance to decide if they're ready to see animals suffering horribly. i don't believe in trigger warnings at poetry events because you should know what you've signed up for, but here it's a relatively public space. you're hurting the people who care more than you're teaching the people who don't."

a long argument ensued. eventually they dropped it, after i responded with the following:

i totally get what you're saying, i really do. but i think context is important. if you're talking about standing outside a baton rouge holding up traumatizing images and slogans - i'll be standing there with you. but facebook is a place for family and friends and coworkers - it's relatively public, but it's *not* public. i find it hard to believe that the proportion of people you're positively affecting when you post, especially considering that most of them are people who know you and have probably heard you speak on the subject, is significant relative to the number who're sympathetic already. hence my response hashtag of #preachingtothechoir.

i am all in for opening people's eyes, i simply disagree with your assessment of facebook as a good place to be aggressive about it.


this morning i happened to see something in my feed that i felt i needed to respond to.

hey vfmp, i hope you guys are well.

i just happened to see your post about north carolina's ag-gag veto:
"It's bad enough to have people who ostensibly care about animals tell me that posting images of animal cruelty is "not what Facebook is for"."

well. let's begin with the fact that that is not at all what i said. what i disagree with is the WAY you post those images. what i disagree with is your approach to creating awareness, with your methods, not with the act of increasing awareness.

let's begin with the way facebook filters our news feeds. facebook does not show your posts to all of your friends. facebook only shows your posts to a handful of friends that it thinks you like engaging with. this means that people who usually like your posts see your posts first, and if a post generates a lot of engagement then *maybe* it'll spread. that means that when you post these disturbing images, the people most likely to see them are the people who've seen them already and indicated that they're interested.

just FYI: you and your partner and brother were not the people who inspired my status on the topic. i barely see disturbing images from you guys, whatever that says about facebook's filters i don't know.

in short: when you post these images on facebook, even if it is the case that most of your "friends" need a wake-up, you're probably only showing them to your friends who don't.

even if it wasn't for facebook filters i firmly believe that "you catch more flies with honey", but i guess that's just my opinion. i think vegan aggression is doing more harm than good to its own cause, and i believe in enlightening people on their own terms because doing otherwise generates cognitive dissonance. we've had a hundred years of misinformation, it's going to take a considerable amount of work to break that.

finally, in response to "ostensibly cares": i'm trying to wrap my head around how disagreeing with your approach equates to not caring about the animals. if you care so much about the animals, posting on facebook is not really an effective way to go about fixing the situation. taking the kinds of actions that get posted about on facebook, however, is.
considering your great efforts with your
[personal] project, i know that you're capable of doing more than that. i will happily help out in any initiatives that won't jeopardize my residence, but while getting the world to go vegan (and we have our different approaches to that, too, but we're definitely both making an effort) is a good long-term influence, there's a lot of need for direct action. facebook is not direct. and alienating people instead of bringing them around is not conducive to bringing about change.

i hope you can appreciate where this is coming from.

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