Growing pains

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!


16 responses to this post.

  1. I always knew you envied me – glad I have it on record! 😉

    I don’t think this is any different than in other areas of our lives. Some people have more finite members of their trusted friends list, some don’t want to be bother with casual acquaintances, etc. Not better or worse, just different.

    My guess is that how I live my life in terms of moving from place to place and traveling so often has had more to do with the number of friends I stay in close contact with than social media has.

    Those circles are probably different for me and you casually, professionally and from an agvocacy standpoint. Doesn’t mean much until people realize what we do with those connections, etc.


  2. Mike and I actually talked about this last night — how agvocacy has grown so successful, and so many of the movers-and-shakers who really built the foundation, have all found ourselves in entirely different situations and mindsets now. I mean, using social media at work all day makes me less like to tweet and blog in my free time, but that’s kind of the tip of the iceberg.

    Sometimes I really miss the early days, when we were all a bunch of friends who met online, by chance, because of some common cause. I love where things are now in many ways (my career, my life, my role in agvocacy, how much awareness has grown), but there’s definitely some nostalgia about the way things used to be.


  3. I find myself less interested. Nobody’s fault but my own, I guess. I just really miss the personal connections with people. Losing an online comrade to a tragic accident played a big role in that. I pulled back. It lost its fun. I miss it.


  4. I’m a late entry into the twitter side of agvocating. I feel like I am one of those watering down the pool of connections…which is probably related to my somewhat shy personality. I typically always feel like I’m a bother to the other person.

    To me, the value of SM isn’t measured in the number of “friends” or “followers”, but in the learning opportunities.


  5. I think of my connections as cyclical. Sometimes I am really connected to particular group and then a few months later it is a new group. Eventually an issue or topic will re-connect me with the first group. It is all about ebbs and flows.


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