Jackie Mundt, Pratt County farmer and rancher
I give a lot of my time to help young leaders grow and develop through programs like 4-H and FFA. Though my biggest motivation is paying it forward because of all the people who helped me, I also directly benefit from working with these students who are experts on pop culture, new fashion, slang terminology and the latest social media trends.
Now that I am solidly a mid-career professional, I sometimes forget how easy it is to lose touch with the changing world. My students are always ready to explain what “Hot Girl Summer” means, why people love the Kardashians and so many other things that might have completely passed over my head otherwise.
Earlier this summer, my intern introduced me to one of the hot new social media sites Be Real. This platform prompts users at a random time daily to take and share a quick snapshot of life. Users have 2 minutes to take a snap that includes both front and back facing views. This quick, random time frame doesn’t allow people much time to make themselves or their life look better than reality. It is meant to showcase the mundane, messy and unfiltered reality of your life. After posting your shot you can see what your friends are up to and interact with comments and emoji’s like other social media platforms. If a user fails to snap a picture they miss out on seeing their friends’ posts for the day.
At first I thought the idea was super strange, but with time it grew on me. Social media is often criticized for fake and overly glamorous view of many people’s lives, which can lead many users to negative impacts on the mental health of users. Be Real makes it harder to fake a picture-perfect life, showing more realistic and normal views of how we live.
It struck me that Be Real is the perfect platform for farmers. There are so many people who have no idea what a farmer does on any given day. Even when someone tours a farm or follows their social media they get a very narrow view that is often the shiny filtered version.
If farmers were using Be Real, I am confident that you would occasionally catch a beautiful sunset while checking an irrigator, or a new born baby calf nursing for the first time and some of the other exciting moments in farming. However, more of the snaps would be of the mundane things famers do every day like crawling over or under something to fix a machine, chasing animals that got out of the fence, doing office work, driving back and forth for hours in the same field, running to town to get parts, fueling equipment, fixing fences, checking rain gages or dry fields, looking for bugs, equipment maintenance, putting out a grass fire and a hundred other tasks that happen every day. Plus the farmer would definitely be covered in sweat, oil, dirt or manure in 95 percent of the pictures.
If you paid close attention, you would also be able to feel the roller coaster of emotions that exist during a season. The hope of planting, fear caused by weeks of high temperatures and drought, the pain of lost animals and crops, the relief of rain and the pride of completing harvest.
Unfortunately, I don’t think many farmers will catch on to this social media trend because they probably wouldn’t hear the notification or be in a place where they had time to get their phone out and take a picture. You will have to take my word for it: farming is as real as it gets.
“Insight” is a weekly column published by Kansas Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization whose mission is to strengthen agriculture and the lives of Kansans through advocacy, education and service.