As the agvocacy effort grows and matures, the nature of how we are connected, how we work together changes as well. In the early days, almost everyone in agvocacy, or at least the social media component of advocating for agriculture, worked directly together. Early efforts such as yellowfail, #moo, the weekly #agchat conversation, the early formation of AgChat Foundation, if you were involved much at all in agvocacy, you were closely connected with others doing the same. (And for the purpose of this post, agvocacy refers to social media agriculture advocacy – to claim that agvocacy began with social media is to fail to acknowledge the many individuals and organizations who were involved in helping connect and share the modern agriculture miracle with a questioning public for many, many years, long before we had heard of Twitter or Facebook.)
It’s a lot different today. While I think that is a good thing, it’s not without some growing pains. For me personally, I’ve written before that on any personality test, I am a very strong introvert. One of the results of that is that my connections are fairly few in nature, but the ones I have are often quite intense. As agvocacy has evolved, as my role has shifted, as others have went different directions, those that I work regularly with has shifted as well. However, I know this.. Everyone I have EVER met in this work is just as passionate, believes just as strongly, cares just as much about sharing, teaching, building connections as ever.
The example I think of is this: I am a Kansas cattle feeder, it’s the specific little corner of agriculture I’m in. Yet, I have no connection to a very large percentage of other Kansas farmers, or other cattle feeders. As social media evolves, it works the same way. I only have a relative handful of folks I am in regular contact with.
Now, for all you extroverts out there, those of you that maintain many, many numbers of friends and contacts. First I envy you.. Well, I envy you until I’ve had to be involved with a large group of people for more than a few hours, than I don’t envy you at all, quiet solitude never looked better! But the same basic principle applies. I don’t know what the maximum number of realistic contacts is? I do know even for the best at this there is an upper limit. It doesn’t matter how many followers, friends, admirers, or creepers you have.. there is a finite (relatively small) number of people we can truly be connected to.
But this is not a bad thing, it is just reality. If I was a better graphic artist I would draw a diagram.. there’s not a huge rope linking some of us to massive numbers of people there’s an interconnected web, some of us with thicker strands than others, but each just a relatively small strand, linking to a few, those few to a few more, back around to others.. In the end, the strength of the agvocacy movement is the interwoven set of multiple connections, not the size of our individual Rolodex (some of you may have to Google that..).
Yea, I realize that would be soo much better with a visual!