Manure Manager editiorial: May-June 2013
Just the facts …
By Marg Land
I’m a news junkie. I admit it, which I believe is the first of 12 steps toward rehabilitation, although I’m not expecting to beat the addiction any time soon. I blame my father, from whom I caught the habit. For most of my childhood, he was either away working or sitting with his head in the newspaper. I followed his example.
Of course, these days, my face is glued to a computer monitor rather than hidden behind newsprint. I’ve been known to check news headlines and Twitter feed half a dozen times a day, following stories through the tiniest of developments. Usually half the information provided is not even verified, a weakness in the news cycle’s current need to provide information up to the second. It used to be you got the hot news update the next day or during the next newscast or in the next hour. Now, it’s with the next Tweet.
Recently, I was feeding my addiction by following the latest Twitter feed describing the tragic explosion at the West, Texas, fertilizer plant. I started out searching Twitter for manure-related posts but instead found I was continually being fed updates on the explosion. That was when I realized the people Tweeting the news weren’t calling the location a fertilizer plant; they were calling it a manure plant.
First of all, the only manure plant I’ve ever heard of is found within most human beings and animals. It’s called the alimentary canal, namely the final step in the system – excretion. I think I’ve also heard of the odd swine farm, dog or baby jokingly referred to as one as well.
I understand for some people the terms fertilizer and manure may appear to be interchangeable. But those of us with an education in agriculture know the difference.
At first I was amused by the mix-up. But then the Twitter posts became somewhat irrational. People were worrying about how explosive the bags of manure compost in their car trunks were or whether their flower gardens could just spontaneously combust. I decided something had to be done. So I started sending Tweets to the people spreading the false information, explaining it was a fertilizer plant that had exploded, not a manure plant, and that there actually was a difference between the two words.
Most people appreciated the information and quickly corrected their Tweets. But there’s always one in the bunch who quickly makes you realize maybe you should have just left the topic alone. I wish I could post the response I received from him – all of it in capitals – but unfortunately, due to the language used, I can’t. Let’s just say he wasn’t very happy with me and thought I was attempting to infringe on his freedom of speech.
I realized I was fighting a losing battle. Most people didn’t care whether it was a fertilizer plant or a manure plant – they were going to call it whatever they wanted to. It didn’t matter whether the information was wrong or right – it was more exciting to believe that the location was a manure plant.
So I dropped my feeble information campaign and ruminated on what was more important – the loss of life. I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of the 15 people killed and the numerous others injured in this terrible tragedy.