Los Ojos, 23 August 2018
We’ve had a few groups of folks visit us over the last few weeks – people who come just to spend some time on the ranch, tour around, and see the animals. I really enjoy walking them around the ranch, introducing them to the animals and talking about all our projects. Partly, that’s because I’m just a big kid – I really like our animals, and I could spend all day watching them and talking about them. Also, though, I’m proud of all that we’re doing, and I like to show it to people.
We’ve said from the inception of this enterprise that openness is one of our key values, but walking around the ranch and talking with people the last few weeks has gotten me to thinking about what exactly that means. I’d say that openness is fundamental to what we’re trying to do, not least because it keeps us honest: if I’m doing something that I wouldn’t want people to see, then I probably need to reconsider. That doesn’t mean that everything is picturesque, pleasant, and perfect all the time – after all, we’re still learning, and everything we do is a big experiment. I make a LOT of mistakes, but at the same time, I’m not ashamed of mistakes made in the pursuit of excellence.
In a way, that’s what openness means to me: just being willing to be honest about what we do here, both good and bad. Not that photos of every failed experiment will make it onto Facebook – after all, that’s not what anybody wants to see – but just that we do our best to be as honest as possible in our self-presentation, and we actively encourage people to come visit us and see.
In 2018, a social media presence is a necessary part of maintaining openness, but the role of social media in doing so is a bit complex, simply because the incentives in any social media engagement are overwhelmingly in favor of maintaining a positive self-presentation. In other words, it’s easy to post lots of cute pictures that don’t reflect the real story; you can give a sense of openness and honest, but without any genuine reflection of real life. Obviously, I do filter what I post and try to manage the image of our operation, focusing on the good stuff and the things in this life that bring me satisfaction. At the same time, though, I also try not to let the social media narrative diverge from reality. In short, the social media picture is true, but because social media posts are snapshots isolated in time and with limited context, there’s just no way they could represent the ambiguities and complexities inherent in real life.
The best course, as always, is to come see for yourself – you’ll see a ranch in the beginning stages of life, amazing scenery, a little bit of chaos, and some incredibly personable animals. Besides, if you come visit it’ll give me an excuse to take a break from whatever I’m supposed to be doing and go hang out with the pigs!