We decided we would tackle this subject as a team:
Naturally, Chloe (a beacon of pure positivity and in no way ever remotely pessimistic) looked at the positive relationship between veganism and social media.
Meanwhile, grumpy Dan explored the inevitable negatives. LET’S GO.
As a constantly growing movement, veganism is becoming more and more common on social media, and along with this comes many positive benefits.
Firstly, community. There is a massive vegan community online – from Facebook groups made specifically for vegans to communicate and interact, to Instagram accounts dedicated purely to veganism and activism, you will always find someone to talk to and someone to share your views and opinions with. This is such a positive aspect of veganism within social media because I personally believe it is so important for us to come together as a whole and help, encourage and support each other, especially those new to veganism. Together we are able to collectively get our message out there and get as many voices as possible heard, which overall is more powerful than doing it alone, and the online community has made this so much easier.
There are also many people who do not know other vegans in real life and therefore they are able to make friends and get the support they may not be getting from any of their real-life friends, which is also beneficial to helping people stick with their veganism. Also, through the online community, it is easier to find out about different vegan events and festivals which encourages the community to expand even further.
Another positive is through social media vegans are able to share and discover knowledge. Social media has certainly helped me throughout my vegan journey by giving me access to people to talk to, accounts that provide knowledge and advice on vegan food/health, and just a whole host of recipes, activism ideas etc that have been shared by various people online. There is a whole host of sites, blogs and people on social media dedicated to helping new vegans, long term vegans and everyone in between.
Also, we are able to share any knowledge we have discovered and learnt during our own personal vegan journeys with other people, and by spreading this knowledge we can further spread the message of veganism and provide people with facts that may help them consider making the transition.
I grew up in the first generation to really embrace the power of the internet to expand our social lives. MSN Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), Yahoo Chat. These were my go-to chat platforms. However, at this point ‘social media’ and ‘social networks’ didn’t exist in the way they do today.
MySpace changed everything. It allowed users to network with people from all over the world. You could also use it to promote your band/music. It has since been usurped by the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These are all platforms where we can reach hundreds and thousands of friends, acquantainces and strangers alike. It is an unquantifiably powerful social and business tool.
In the world of veganism, it is a way to spread the beliefs, the ethics, the undenaible truths. It is a way to raise awareness and hopefully educate the uneducated. A way to come together as a community from all over the world without needing to physically meet. It has become essential.
Unfortunately, as with many such things, there are negative elements to contest with too. I will break these down for you, at least as I see them…
- Trolls. These are people on social networks who intentionally try to offend, cause arguments and inflame situations. There are plenty of omnivorous people on social media who seem to enjoy attempting to wind vegans up. They might comment on a picture of an adorable cow with something extremely original such as ‘Yum’ or ‘Looks delicious’. The trick is – pay them NO attention. The moment someone gets annoyed or upset is the moment they win. They’re a bit like terrorists, only a more suitable term would be something along the lines of ‘irritationists’.
- Holier-than-thou vegans. Now, perhaps a little controversial, because it’s subjective and my opinion alone, but this really bothers me. It is IMPOSSIBLE to be ethically pure. We all impact the environment merely by existing. Veganism means cutting out the consumption of animal products to lessen cruelty to animals and our impact on the environment. Any steps that people choose to take beyond that is WONDERFUL and I applaud you all. But please don’t belittle someone who is taking positive steps just because they haven’t taken ALL the steps you have.
- Fake facts. I’ve seen a lot of this floating about on social networks (an example is posted below). It’s vital that the awareness we spread is ACCURATE. No scaremongering. No embellishment. Just the truth. It’s all we need to convince those with a conscience and a strong ethical compass to possibly change their minds about consuming animal products.
For me – the positives that social networking has brought to the vegan community vastly outweigh the negatives. We are able to share and spread so much love, compassion, and incredible food! Here’s to the continued expansion and growth of the wonderful vegan community.
(Header image credit: http://www.rimedia.org)