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10 March 2023 written by Marieke Verspeek-Janssen

IMPACT SHAMING? What?!

Have you heard about Impact shaming? No? Then you’d better read this blog. And if you have heard about it, you should still read this important insight into why it doesn’t work.

Impact shaming is one of the trends of 2023. And if you know what it is, it’s obvious why.
Impact shaming is the term used to refer to any comments or thoughts about the fact that everything you work for is never sustainable enough. Impact shaming is easy: simply post or share your unpolished opinion on social media. Or – better still - just spill it out in a talk show. And voila! Impact shaming is created. Oh, how easy it is to blame someone else for climate change! And how wonderful for you to acquire so many followers by posting your critical (and potentially devastating) opinion.

Polarisation

We need to realise that impact shaming is increasing polarisation. Not only between different cultures or political backgrounds, but even between friends and colleagues. Consider this: how do you think you can build a sustainable world on polarisation? Shaming is not only dividing us, it is also weakening our ability to create an inclusive community. We can’t change the world on our own.

Easy target

A clear example of this is the ‘Stalgeheimen’ (milking parlour secrets) campaign by Wakker Dier. In it, the Dutch animal welfare organisation Wakker Dier claims that dairy cows are culled at a young age. According to them, this is a sign that there’s something seriously wrong with the dairy industry.
The assertion made by Wakker Dier is exaggerated and unrealistic. The dairy industry is an easy target: not many people know what really goes on in the milking parlours, but everyone can image it. Live animals, slender and bony, stumbling onto the trailer. You can feel it, right?

Give Berta the life she deserves

But what if I say it’s our fault! Because we’re consuming more and more protein shakes, for example - you probably know a fitboy or fitgirl. Not to mention the many countries having to deal with a lack of protein in their diet. At the same time, of course, everything has to be as cheap as possible. This may seem like a boring rant, but it’s the truth. The dairy farmer really doesn’t want his beloved Berta to go to the slaughter house. But if he wants to maintain his annual production, to pay his mortgage and meet his agreements with his customers, he has to send her away. And, dear reader, this really isn’t about Berta or the farmer - Berta is a perfect cow, who gave birth to four wonderful daughters, and the farmer raised her with love. No! This is all about what you and I are asking of Berta and her farmer.

A year of understanding

So, please stop impact shaming farmers. Let 2023 be the year of understanding. Investigate and understand why things are not as sustainable as you would like. Then you can post your opinion together with your proposed solution. How can you help Berta get the life she deserves? Talk to your local farmer and discuss the options with your friends, family and colleagues. Explain the reality behind the headlines, and discuss how you can change this together. I’m convinced you’ll be surprised at where these discussions will lead to. Maybe you too can become a positive hero, instead of an observer from the sidelines, or part of the herd. So, let’s take a step back from impact shaming and next time you’re thinking of posting on the topic of dairy cows, consider how you can encourage others to follow your lead to making a difference. What are you willing to do to help us realise change?
Want to discuss this further? Contact me at: marieke@imagro.nl

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