When we discuss the realities of factory farming and the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, the people we need to focus on aren’t those who already think like us. We need to focus on the general public. The 95 percent+ of the population who are eating animals. They're the ones who need to be won over, so we must cater our message to them.
To all those using social media to speak up for animals, think critically about the way you communicate with the outside world. You aren't just exposing people to the cruel realities of factory farming. You're essentially asking them to completely change their lifestyle. A lifestyle that has been reinforced over decades of eating animals, which is 100 percent acceptable according to social norms. We're making a big ask of people to consider this new way of living, so we shouldn’t discount the enormity of that request.
To create positive change, we must meet people where they are, not where we want them to be. It's likely that just a few years, months, or even weeks ago, you were in their shoes. So act with understanding, not condemnation.
Simple adjustments in how you communicate will lead to the difference between truly winning someone over merely just winning an argument. Understanding the distinction between these outcomes is key. Winning someone over will eventually lead to real positive change for animals.
Winning an argument, however, might make you feel good, but little to nothing will be accomplished for animals. Every interaction you have with the general public will shape their view for the rest of their life.
Effective communication can be broken down into four simple words: don’t be a jerk. After all, when is the last time you witnessed someone being rude, crass, or disrespectful and thought to yourself: "Hey, I wanna be just like that person!" Exactly. Be gentle in your attitude and reasonable in your appeals.
When in a thread or public discussion with others, keep in mind that the greatest influence you're going to have isn’t with those who you're communicating with directly - it's with the people who are witnessing that conversation. The majority of social media users actually don't participate in conversations at all; they merely observe. It's these observers who you need to positively influence.
Don't be all doom-and-gloom, all the time. Recognize and expose animal cruelty, but balance it with a positive attitude and demeanor. If we approach the world in a pessimistic, miserable way, fewer people will be inspired by us to change.
What's happening behind the closed doors of factory farms and slaughterhouses is horrific and needs every voice in the room to speak up effectively. That's why how you speak up matters. How you use your voice will determine the fate for farm animals everywhere.
John Oberg is a social media pro, dedicated to making the world a kinder place for animals by utilizing the power of social media. He recently launched his own independent project for animals through Patreon. Prior to that, he served as Director of New Media for the international animal protection organization, The Humane League. And prior to that, John served as Director of Communications for Vegan Outreach. In both of these roles, John oversaw social media for the organizations which led to a tenfold increase in following in both, as well as over 1 billion views of content posted to these pages.