Jumping on the selfie bandwagon farmer-style

The Oxford Dictionaries selected “selfie” as their word of the year for 2013.

It’s a commonly used expression for describing a photo you’ve taken of yourself – most likely one with your smartphone held at arm’s length in front of you in some way.

Although there’s online evidence to show it was first used in 2002, Oxford says its decision was based on the fact that usage of the word exploded worldwide last year.

Numerous spin-off words are now also circulating, depending on what it is you’re taking a picture of.

Examples include helfie (photo of your hair), welfie (photo taken while working out) or drelfie (selfie taken while inebriated).

The latest addition currently making the rounds is felfie – or #felfie in Twitter-speak – which is a farmer selfie.

The felfie photos are authentic, first-hand glimpses into food and farming on the front lines.

It was launched just before the holidays as a Christmas contest by the Irish Farmers Journal, which encouraged farmers to follow in the footsteps of celebrities like Pope Francis, President Obama and Prince William, who have all recently been seen taking part in the selfie craze.

A Facebook page dedicated to the felfie has over 24,000 likes and has attracted photo submissions from farmers far beyond the borders of Ireland.

Here in Ontario, farmers have also joined the felfie movement, posting photos of themselves engaged in farming activities, posing with cute livestock, or during the most recent blizzard, showing how they dealt with the extreme cold and snow gripping large parts of North America.

Even Premier Kathleen Wynne got in on the action, tweeting a photo of herself plowing during the International Plowing Match in Perth County last September and asking “Does this count as a #felfie”?

The felfie phenomenon is starting to go viral outside of the agricultural world too.

A story by London Free Press reporter Debora Van Brenk was quickly picked up by the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun and Vancouver 24 too, and began attracting interest from urban readers.

And that’s where the felfie can be a tool to help in consumer outreach efforts about our farming way of life.

Much of what we do on our farms today can be complicated to explain to non-farmers or difficult for them to understand or relate to, yet public opinion – whether informed or not – is increasingly playing a role in shaping the social and regulatory environment within which we farm.

The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” definitely still holds true today, especially when tools like Twitter and Instagram can be used to share an image far and wide.

The felfie photos aren’t retouched, properly lit or, in some cases, even that good – but they’re authentic, first-hand glimpses into food and farming on the front lines.

And they put a human face on food production and give viewers the opportunity to comment, ask and directly interact with the farmer in the photo.

The entire agriculture industry has a role to play in ensuring public trust and confidence in our food supply – and here’s a good opportunity to use the latest social media trend to help us do that.

To check out felfies that have been posted online, visit farmingselfie.com, facebook.com/Felfies or go to twitter.com and search for the hashtag #felfie.

Note: This article was originally published in Ontario Farmer in January 2014.

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