As a small farmer, I always appreciate the wonders of nature when I come upon funny-looking vegetables growing in my garden. It usually makes me laugh and wonder how on earth they turn out the way they do. I think my fellow farmers also enjoy these finds, a perk that comes with farming.
Last Monday, I started to harvest daikon radish before the big freeze coming later in the week. In the middle of one bed, I pulled one up that really amazed me. It looked like a human body in a sitting position, two long legs stretching forward with one leaning slightly on the other. There is even a piece slightly resembling a genital. Later in the evening after it was washed clean, it looked like a homelier marble statue from Ancient Rome. My partner and I had a good laugh and immediately thought of sharing it with other fellow farmers.
I was a member of a facebook group, probably the largest of its kind with close to 20,000 members, of mostly like-minded small farmers and market gardeners from all corners of the globe. People share their stories and ask advice. It is really a wonderful, supportive online community.
So expecting big laughs and a great response, I shared it. Actually, I shared it twice. The first time the post just disappeared. I thought I had done something technically wrong and so I shared it again the next day. It immediately received a positive responses and shares. A few hours later though, when I checked back after some field work, the post was nowhere to be found. And then I realized I was no longer even a member.
This was astonishing and it has left me a bit shaken. It was as if I had done something so terrible that I deserved to be expelled from a community that I belong to.
As no explanation was given, I can only guess as to what happened in the background to my post being deleted and my account terminated: someone in authority must have been offended by the perceived “pornographic” nature of the radish, which led them to think my action was disruptive or distracting from the purpose of the forum.
A “pornographic” vegetable? I found it crazy. I went to my facebook friends to gauge their responses. No surprise everyone thought it silly or hard to believe. The fact that people were offended by a “naked” vegetable reminded me that we live in a world of clashing views, a world that has increasingly become either “black” or “white”, a world where you are either with me or against me. This divide has been reinforced and widened by opinionated and distorted, and in many cases, fake news.
I have been living in a bubble, a bubble spanning from my physical surrounding to the social media sphere, a bubble where I am surrounded only by friends with silimar values.
Some friends told me this was a very serious issue and that I should take immediate action. While I think they are one hundred percent right that I should get my voice out, I am not sure what would be a good approach. I could contact the coordinator, explain my situation, apologize if anyone was offended, promise not to post images like that again, but is that really the right thing for me? Or should I try to reason with them that I am “right” and they are “wrong” even though I am absolutely certain that this approach won't get me anywhere. Maybe I should just laugh it off and move on as the expulsion does not have a serious effect on my life or my livelihood. I'm still able to access the posts, and find resonance with other farmers' daily lives. However, I can no longer contribute.
I hope this article reaches the person who had the authority to remove me on a whim. We have more in common with each other than we have differences. We are all cousins, and much closer to each other than the common origin - Adam and Eve, or the ancient ape - depending on which side you are on.