Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism
How many of you regularly venture into hostile territory to post original threads or to comment on other posts? By "hostile", I mean forums that are not focused on animal rights, vegetarianism or veganism, where you are likely to come under fire for you views.
If you do post regularly on such forums, what is your experience like, and do you think it's worth it? Are you making a difference?
What about if you are vegan posting in a vegetarian thread? Or someone who doesn't support "welfare" reforms posting in forum that does support those things? Are you treated well in those situations?
I post in nonvegan forums every so often. It depends on the forum as far as whether or not it seems worth it. I've run across all kinds from those who are already eating mostly vegan for health reasons and who are very open to the moral argument, all the way to farmers who raise animals for slaughter, who aren't so open. I've found that anyone who is involved in keeping and killing animals, or who has jumped on the "local food/locavore" bandwagon, can get particularly hostile.
I think posting online can be helpful in that it shows there are other vegans out there and that we're not all sandal wearing hippies (or whatever the stereotype is). Also, the people commenting aren't the only ones reading. I try to keep in mind that there may be lurkers who are considering veganism and what I say may make a difference. So I try to make cogent arguments and stay away from getting personal (and sometimes I succeed).
I feel as if I could write a book about this subject, if I just knew where to start. I've posted on a couple of forums that don't have anything to do with AR issues (they're mainly for foreigners in Korea) and I became the target of very serious harassment and bullying there. I've more or less given up, but once in a while I can't resist posting a response when someone says something *really* stupid or offensive or posts blatant misinformation.
It seems like a waste of effort 99 percent of the time because threads that become abusive often get deleted anyway. When I complain to the moderators about the abusive posts and the utter disregard for truthfulness and accuracy on the site, they write back telling me to kiss their collective asses (seriously). On one site, someone I'd barely spoken to started a thread titled "Fuck off, red dog." Another person said via private message "I found your picture"--the attached picture was of a naked woman, ass in the air in a Japanese bathtub, eating her own diarrhea. Another person (who I unfortunately knew IRL a few years ago and who moderates one site and is friends with moderators on the other) used a fake name to send me a butt plug, Vagisil and other rude stuff. I later found out he was also using a different fake name to write in "fake bad English" and hide behind a stupid stereotypical Korean character. When I found out what was going on I threatened to tell his Korean wife--then the moderators and administrators of the site started stalking me, saying they had my real name and personal information and suggesting they were going to use it to cause trouble for me at work.
Some of these assholes have hijacked threads I didn't start and had nothing to do with, and used them as opportunities to harass me. Example: Someone posted a link to a news story about a mother putting a human baby in a microwave and another poster replied: "red dog will be happy it wasn't a chicken." On another occasion, local rescuers held a fundraiser to help a struggling dog shelter and one of the assholes from the other board hijacked the thread saying he'd be there watching to see if I showed up. I had no intention of going because it was in a bar and I don't like going to bars--I was just going to send in a donation to help the dogs. But I was forced to go to the bar in person just to prove I wasn't afraid of these harassers/stalkers.
I also post on Facebook and on an animal rescue site where AR supporters are in the minority--but the rescue site doesn't officially endorse any one point of view, so in theory my opinions are as welcome there as any other person's. The site owner won't tolerate abusive posts, and she's a great moderator, but she can't regulate people's conduct on other sites. Discussions on FB and on the above-mentioned sites for foreigners in Korea do affect the community at the rescue site (people may use different nicknames, but often it's possible to guess who's who). Basically it's a great resource to get animals adopted and fostered, but people refuse to use it to discuss the issues and it's really frustrating to be the only participant in a discussion. In my experience, well-moderated sites are generally slower than poorly moderated sites.
I really dislike the whole concept of FB because it seems stupid to pretend to keep in touch with a network of "friends" who don't care enough to send a real letter or e-mail but will happily share a lot of useless information. I hate the time-wasting applications and quizzes and the annoying ads on FB ... OTOH, it's a good way to share information and I've successfully used it to arrange shelter visits and make contact with potential adopters for some of the dogs who've been waiting for years. Not being on FB (when I was off) felt like not having a phone, and I didn't like being in the dark about my dog's brothers and sisters (at the shelter, not her biological brothers and sisters).
I'm wary of sharing too much information on FB because there are so many scams. A little while ago I got a chat message from a FB friend I haven't seen IRL for years. This person claimed to have been robbed at gunpoint and said he needed money to fly home from another country. It sounded suspicious so I asked him where he lived, where he worked, how we knew each other, where we'd met, etc. He got the country right but couldn't answer any other questions so I called the person long distance. (Fortunately the number was posted on his profile.) Of course he was safe at home and not stranded in an airport as the scammer claimed. Shortly after that incident I deleted two people from my network because I didn't trust them (they'd asked a lot of personal questions without offering much info about themselves)--but then again, maybe they were harmless and could have benefited from links to local vegan resources, homeless animal-related information and news articles?
I used to regularly post on hostile forums, though of late my thinking is starting to lean towards the idea that doing so is a waste of time.
In the past, what I have posted on forums was done partly to inform others that would be reading the forums though may not be active in the discussion, along with correcting any mistakes that were assumed by those with an opposing thought/viewpoint.
By doing this, you are going up against too many unknowns, things like how heavy handed are the moderators, what about all the minions that will come out in support of the current position, etc. And there is also the possibily that the thread will be locked or deleted mid-discussion with nothing actually having been achieved.
One forum in particular, which is supposedly a vegan/vegetarian one, the mods and most of the frequent posters are too narrow minded or scared to say something against the default position that it makes any sort of meaningful discussion impossible.
What the solution is, I do not know. One thing I am doing now is slowly starting to post more often with the blogs that I have and sharing things like that through facebook.
Ahh, my apologies.
I took a public forum to be one that was able to be read by the public whether they were a registered user or not, as opposed to the forums where people have to join then get their access upgraded once they have been approved by the moderator.
"Get out there folks!!"
I totally agree with this, for around ten years I have been posting re animals issues/AR on general forums, including the old BBC 'Science' forum and newspaper forums/blogs, overall my experience has been good...not so much that people have 'seen the light' but that issues have been brought to their attention, they have engaged so even if hostile will likely at least remember the issues, and many although they disagree have engaged in a civilised, friendly way.
I feel we absolutely need to get out there and take full advantage of the opportunties available via the internet to raise and debate animal issues/AR - and it is far, far easier than arranging public meetings/stalls (not that they are not important too of course), and far less dangerous!
I worry we are not taking full advantage though, I know there are many, many animal/AR groups/individuals' websites/blogs but 'the public' are unlikely to actively seek them out unless people already have an interest...yes it is good and useful to talk amongst ourselves but we need to speak to the unconverted - so we need to take the message to them via the general forums/blogs.