Last week’s Manitoba Ag Days in Brandon joined a long list of Twitter hashtags that have been targeted by people who seem to oppose any use of animals beyond snuggling.
Even the people who posted the provocative images and graphics on #agdays16 would likely agree this was a trolling campaign.
Most people understand what it means to troll when it comes to internet-based interactions. For those who don’t, think fishing where you have a baited line out behind the boat.
Some definitions of trolled say you have to respond online to be considered trolled, but I think that definition is too narrow.
As soon as you react to the troller’s post, they have you on the line. So if a post made you angry, the troller’s objective has been achieved, which in this case was to agitate and hurt anyone involved with livestock.
Animal activism does have an important and constructive place in society as a whole, and in the livestock industry in particular, but this was not animal activism.
Activism is based on moving toward a goal in a constructive way, and I didn’t see any sign that this trolling campaign was trying to achieve anything but to annoy others.
People who compare modern livestock to the holocaust are not trying to be constructive.
Of the people who attended Manitoba Ag Days and used #agdays16, I can’t imagine how any of their beliefs were changed by these malicious tweets.
If these trolls were actually interested in learning and promoting animal welfare, Manitoba Ag Days would have been a great place for them to start because some of the more knowledgeable and in-formed livestock producers in the business were likely on hand.
These tweets didn’t foster positive discussions, which brings to mind the other definition of troll — the mythological beings — but only in the sense that they live far away from people and are rarely helpful.
The anonymity provided by interacting online can allow these trolls to become even more hideous because they don’t have to worry about social repercussions for antisocial behavior, especially when hiding behind a cyber pseudonym.
Trolling is said to have failed when it doesn’t elicit a response.
So when these trolls remain on the outside looking in at the online Canadian agriculture community that has been forged through social media-based interactions and mutual support, they will know their time has been spent in vain and that they should likely get a useful hobby.