So we're done our first weekend at the Royal Winter Fair. It was a good weekend. We started by visiting some friends that we know in Toronto, then headed to the fair Sunday morning for the Youth Goat Show. Matthew placed 6th in Senior Showmanship, and 2nd in the Nubian goat class.
The nice thing about the Youth Goat Show is that you are allowed to network with a breeder who is already showing in the open show, and show one of their goats in the Youth Show. We were really thankful to be able to borrow this Nubian from Shar-Lynn farm.
The Royal made some drastic changes in set up this year, all of which I think were really good. They have adjusted the Ring of Excellence so it's in a slightly different location, and much bigger than it used to be. They had also made the showring where the sheep, goats and hogs showed a lot more user friendly.
Agricultural displays were excellent as usual, with the goal of educating urban consumers about where their food comes from. Unfortunately, many urban people don't bother to interact with the displays. This is sad because this is the one time of the year where veterinarians, industry leaders, and the farmers themselves are more than willing to talk to people and answer their questions. Instead, some people just want to take pictures and post them online with their own opinions attached.
Because this is Canada, and a free country, they are entitled to their own opinion, which is amazing, but it's important for the people who are later reading these posts online, to check the facts behind them. I don't know the exact statistics, but I have heard that a lot of shared Facebook posts are actually never clicked on. People see a headline, get emotional about it, and share it to their 500 friends without seeing if it's actually legit. This is pretty sad.
With the US Election this week, we saw a lot more negative media coverage. I was really saddened by our own CBC's seeming need to just push their own agenda instead of simply reporting facts in the manner you'd expect from the news media.
When we were at the Farm Smart Conference in Guelph back in January, we had the privilege of listening to the keynote speaker, who just happened to be Dr. Temple Grandin. She stressed how important it is to network with those around us and work to understand their point of view, but also do our part to explain the truth to them when they don't understand us. She encouraged us to get out of our silos and be aware of what is going on around us. She was speaking of the agriculture industry for the most part, but this would apply to other areas of life too. She mentioned how young consumers get facts from social media. feelings and shared values not facts.
So I ask you, did you check the facts behind the article you just shared on Facebook. Could the picture you just posted be mis-interpreted by someone who doesn't understand your industry, whatever it is? Are you willing to dialogue in a civil manner with those who aren't from your 'silo', but are genuinely interested in what you have to say? Are you able to politely deal with a hostile person who disagrees with you?
And on a more personal note, do you know where to ultimately get the right facts? The media is very rarely that place. When you need real, accurate information, you need to go to the source. This means seeking out real experts, not just Facebook friends or the latest news article.
Never be afraid to ask hard questions, just make sure you're asking them of the right people.