Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Twitter #nestlefamily bru haha

I told myself this morning, I was not going to write anything about the #nestlefamily Twitter drama from this week. I've been following it, and yes, I've tweeted in it. I've been very surprised through this. You see, I DO have two Twitter accounts. My readers know this. I have @CalvaryGirl, where I tweet about politics. Realizing I wanted to follow other bloggers of non-political blogs, I created my "regular" account where I tweet about everything else. To understand my perspective on #nestlefamily, you must know more about me:

I realize the hybrid I am. I recycle a LOT (working towards "pre-cycling", I aim to have as less as possible preservatives and artificial ingredients in our food. I believe wholly in "clean eating", or "whole foods cooking". I foresaw myself getting sick this week and went and bought 25 lbs of carrots, 4-5 lbs of apples, two celery hearts (all organic) and juiced half of it Thursday afternoon and started drinking. Yesterday (Friday) I was at the Dr with the flu (should have juiced earlier, huh?). another post. I believe we should be good stewards of the world God has given us, but I will never consider myself "green"- I do not believe in global warming. Seeing that environmentalism has turned into somewhat of a religion, I try to be careful with my words around people who I speak with that might believe in it. The same respect I'd like for people to give Christians when the topic of God comes up. However, I'm crunchy, for sure.

My online relationships have changed in the past year. For eight years I served as a Community Leader (CL) for (@iVillage), and made many, wonderful friends. Jackson, now 10, was a toddler when I stumbled on the now Christian Family Life board. I conceived Hannah right before I became a leader for the board. As a SAHM, with one vehicle that was with Jay each day, that community of women were my link to the outside world. not only on the board, but the site as a whole because I got to know a number of other Community Leaders of other boards while serving as well. iVillage, was my blogosphere.
There's a dynamic to online life. Sometimes it is hard to project the right emotion into words, sometimes it is not. Writing is an art form when it comes to online relationships and communication because sometimes one needs to get "wordy" to make sure their words are received in the way they were intended.
Breastfeeding is one of my favorite subjects to discuss. On CFL (Christian Family Life) it was not an uncommon subject to be brought up because it was all mothers. This is just one example of a breastfeeding conversation on that board, and shows the character of the lovely people I have associated myself with. Due to lack of information with Jackson, the experience was cut short to three months (explained within that post / thread). Then I found these ladies (and there's more that did not post in that thread), and the information I needed to successfully bf with Hannah until she weaned herself at almost 17 months. I mourned it. I have friends who have bf for YEARS. I support it. Ask my niece, I supported her as much as I possibly COULD with ^Jordan^, and he still ended up on formula. If I knew then what I know now, I would have probably offered to induce lactation and bf him myself.... well, if my niece accepted the offer ;o)

Where I come from ... even online you should still be respectful to other people. I remember a long time ago, a Christian tried to evangelize the Atheist Parenting board, posting to its members about salvation. Instead of the members of the Atheist board coming to the CFL board and dogging us out posting anti God statements, their CL (Community Leader) contacted me via email and asked if I knew that particular member, and linked me to the posts. NO, this member had never posted on CFL. Right then we made an agreement, "her" members did not post to our board and "mine" would not post to hers. That brought about a nice friendship between the two of us that we might not otherwise have, and I dearly appreciated her contacting me first and discouraging her members from retaliating against "the Christians", because the Christians they would had been retaliating against, had nothing to do with their experience.

The 'Christian' who invaded the Atheist Parenting board was considered trolling.
By definition:
"a troll is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion." *

So the person who said: "It's only "trolling" because you don't agree."- no m'am, you are wrong. It was trolling.

Twitter is not much different than iVillage. iVillage has boards where people of like interests discuss specific topics and broader subjects, Twitter, has the #hashtag. For the non tweeps-you click on the #hashtag and it shows you every tweet/post made on twitter containing said #hashtag, not just the people who you see on your timeline/friends list. Using the message board conversion, it would be like going from the General "iVillage" board where everyone was posting, to the #christian board where people were discussing a Christian topic. Except with twitter, you can use whatever #hashtag you want, as long as others join you and you are not sitting there tweeting with yourself!

This week, Nestle brought in a group of mothers who blog and do product reviews to California and they were to tweet their experience while they were there.
From their Nestle Family Blog:
"Nestlé understands the importance of listening directly to parents. That’s why on September 30 and October 1, we’ve invited 20 Mom and Dad bloggers to our U.S. headquarters to learn firsthand the things that are important to them and their families, and to share a little about us and our brands."
It sounds perfectly fine from a consumer standpoint, very cool as an aspiring blogger hoping to one day have a blog with the span of readership these blogging mothers have. I was already following a couple of these moms, and was reading their individual tweets about Nestle in my timeline. Then I clicked on the #hashtag and was reminded of something that my pro breastfeeding mom friends from iVillage had discussed before: there was a boycott of Nestle happening, and it started about 30 years ago.
I understand the premise of the boycott. I do. I really DO. But what I was seeing was not happiness, and it was NOT respect. The Nestle boycotters were tweeting under the same hashtag as the blogging mothers- judging them for being at Nestle, and basically making Nestle out to be Satan's tool. I understand the issues surrounding the boycott. I DO. But there is a time and place for everything, and overloading the #nestlefamily hashtag with anti Nestle posts, debating the issues, accusing the blogging mothers attending the event of "selling out for a coupon", "killing babies", "supporting child labor" ... NO. That is NOT the way to go about getting your message across.

We live in a free country, with free speech. Yes, it was perfectly "legal" for the boycotters to overload the hashtag, but was it right? I tweeted recommending that the boycotters use #discussnestle, but of course that was not acceptable to them. It was said "I feel the issues are plenty important & am glad 4 a platform where a commercial can turn into a discussion". This was after a Nestle executive started tweeting addressing the boycotters concerns, and every- answer- given- was rejected. NOTHING Nestle was going to say was going to be good enough, so WHY?
What I was looking at, was a group of otherwise women I likely would have followed on twitter under different circumstances, acting like toddlers pitching a fit for their cause. A three year old also is glad for a platform not intended for them to be the center of attention, to BECOME a platform where their issues become the center of attention, too. There's a time and place for everything.
It was said
"The pt of using #nestlefamily was to influence the attendees & their fans. If we used a diff one, it would have gone unnoticed." That's the toddler's point, too. Instead of being patient and waiting until they can get what they want, they pitch a fit. It would have been just as easy to post under #nestlefamily (use!) "Hey, mom bloggers, we have some serious concerns about Nestle's marketing practices, are you aware of X, Y, & Z? Please join us under #discussnestle to talk about these issues" and go from there. That was the arrangement we had on the iVillage boards. The debate CLs was allowed to post on support boards inviting members to their discussions about heated topics. Then the members were respected by not being forced to be involved in heated discussions.

I say that, then I think of the comments that were made: "Since when did we decide to take choice away from mothers on how they want to feed their babies?" then right after you saw:
"it's easier to make the "right" choice when someone takes away a few of the choices "for you," right?"
I HOPE that was not serious. I HOPE that was sarcastic. But, in light of the disrespect I saw happening, it would make sense that by choosing NOT to use a different hashtag and inviting the mother bloggers to join in the boycott discussion if they chose to, they were left with NO choice. That goes hand in hand with opposing formula samples being sent home in American hospitals, right? When there's NO choice, the "right" one, according to some people, will be made. The thing is, we DO live in America, where there IS choice. You have the ability TO GIVE choice.

Babies dieing in third world countries is a strong enough of a cause for it to bring attention to its self, you do not HAVE to force it on people. But it was.
But what got me today, and what made me decide to write about this, was this comment about the mom bloggers:
"When I asked her why she would ever align herself with this company and attend their blogger junket, her response was that she never said she had a problem with Nestle. Maybe so, but I think she should have a problem with Nestle." *
This is THE problem. It's okay to have an opinion, but to get irate towards another mother because she does not have a problem with a company that YOU do, is DISRESPECTFUL. It's UGLY. It's NOT the attitude I hope today's generation of children are being raised with! We are in America, and we ARE allowed to have an opinion, or lack thereof, of anything, am I wrong for believing this?
My friend (and member of LLL) once said:
"i have made lots of parenting decisions over the last 8 years and almost 4 children, some great, some good and some not so good. that is really between me my husband and God. there are plenty of things i feel strongly about; breastfeeding, vaccination, circumsion, sleeping, epidurals, staying at home etc- but for me to judge someone else or think they are a bad parent because they choose to do things differently is just plain wrong. i have made completely different choices than my parents made. does that make them bad parents? NO. we all hopefully do the best w/ what we have." (~Julie, aka earthmuffinmommy)"
So I'm sitting here at my computer, coming down with the flu, jaw dropped, ashamed. Ashamed because the Nestle boycotters, people I otherwise would have likely enjoyed following, were criticizing other mothers for accepting a good opportunity and experience in their eyes. For not respecting the fact they have the freedom to make such a choice for themselves. For questioning their ethics "because they associate with such a company". Thing is, some of those mothers did not know about the boycott and the issues surrounding it. Those mothers were STILL criticized because "they didn't do their research". The mom bloggers were damned if they did and damned if they didn't.

In my eyes, I could go back to the day I realized my milk was dried up with Jackson and a "concerned lactivist" come into MY living room and condemned me for not "doing my research", when I was not aware when everything was happening, that there WAS research to do! Then when I said "thanks for the head's up" they continued to stay and stick their finger in my face.

THAT is what was happening- the boycotters did not appear to truthfully want a dialog because NOTHING Nestle said in the conversation was accepted. Nothing was good enough, If the boycotters humbly wanted to make their issues known, they could have used the different hashtag, invited others to join, and you know what? I'm willing to bet Nestle would have joined that conversation, too. YES, respect is a BIG proponent when opening a conversation over substantial subjects. I know I would have followed both hashtags. It was sad, very sad.

What makes this worse today is, some boycotters are now personally "going after" I know of at least one of the mom bloggers. They are going the "next step" in this attack on a group of women whose only "crime" is they made a decision to do something they disagree with. It's now not OK to make your own choices and not be able to live without fear of retaliation, you have to worry who's going to attack you for your views if you do not do what people think you should based on their opinion.
There's No Liberty In a Society That Lives Like That!
I saw a blog post today where a boycotter is emailing the advertisers of a mom blogger's blog. Lets be real, it is NOT because this person is "concerned" for the advertisers, she wants to hit this blogger personally. It's vindictive. It's wrong. It's sad. What's worse is the message- "Perhaps best to stop reiterating the past bad behavior. What do u think of the issue?" from last night, to learn of the continued attacks on the mom bloggers today. ::sigh::

What do I think of the issues?
I went into my kitchen and have not one Nestle product in it.
Probably because when the Whole Foods boycott started, I joined the BUYcott (2)and haven't went to a conventional grocery store but once and that was for eggs and cheese, and I have not found those on the Nestle list of products yet. No really, I think it was July at the beach with my BFF it might have been a Stouffer's lasagna one night to feed the eight kids we were in charge of. Or was that beach trip of '08? I was with BFF, that I remember.

But no, I'm not boycotting Nestle, I'm buycotting Whole Foods (@WholeFoods, @WFMWinston), and Whole Foods does not carry Nestle.

I am, however, more concerned about babies dieing in America than third world countries. Babies such, who are born alive outside of their mother's womb despite an attempted abortion, and medical workers leaving them to die because of fears of lawsuits- because there wasn't supposed to be a surviving baby. I'm more concerned about these babies, who, President Obama, when offered a chance to defend these babies and give them a chance to live, chose to defend abortion. When a baby is outside the womb, "abortion" doesn't apply. Meet Gianna, a woman who actually survived a third trimester abortion attempt.

I am, however, more concerned about things like this-
"The December issue of Natural Family Online magazine ( features a new analysis which finds that formula feeding doubles infant death rates for babies in the United States. Health educator and author Dr. Linda Folden Palmer's report, based on several decades of research from the U.S. and across the world, reveals that the use of infant formula costs the lives of an estimated 9,335 U.S. babies each year." * (article based on '04 report, has it gotten better?)
I am concerned about the infants, children, and adults dieing of malaria in Africa, a developing country, because of the increased pressure from environmental organizations pressing for the banning of DDT, which can control malaria when used. The solution is so simple in that case, except .... (shaking head)

Oooohhhhhhhh but WAIT! I don't believe in global warming, but Whole Foods supports a number of causes linked to defeating global warming!! What am I to do? They obviously support causes contrary to my personal beliefs ... and ethics? If you really want to stretch it- I mean, if Whole Foods supports environmental causes, then how am I to know they are not indirectly contributing to the deaths of the infants and children dieing in Africa due to malaria? Oh wow ... what am I left with? Choosing lesser expensive organic food, more humane treatment of animals, fair trade coffee .... or a conventional grocery store where I can't afford their organic food and don't care for processed food?

Oh that's right. I have the right to choose my battles. I can choose to shop at Whole Foods and not support certain "environmental" causes- like the lobbying to ban the use of DDT in Africa.

That's my choice.

Just like it was the mom blogger's choice to make to do what they did.

Things could have went so much better. Just because the mom bloggers smiled and worked with the boycotters does not mean what the boycotters done was right, it means they were appeased, just like the toddler is appeased by getting their piece of candy after pitching a fit in the store. There was a better way, and it was not done, now people are still being personally attacked.


  1. I agree with you wholeheartedly. The funny thing is, is that all of those people spewing negativity have done things others would find offensive (eating meat, premarital sex, speeding through a school zone, drugs... whatever) but they find no issue with completely attacking complete strangers for their choices. It scared me more that most of these people are mothers- what sort of behavior are they teaching their children? If the kid's do not agree with their teachers, is it ok to just run into school attacking the teacher verbally and calling names?

    An intellectual, thoughtful conversation is way more persuasive to me.

  2. Honestly, I agree with much of what you said but not about the hashtag.

    Attacking the attendees is uncalled for.

    However, the hashtag is not a private party and if Nestle is using it to try to create a certain image then protesters should be free (not just "legally" but ethically and even in terms of public discourse etiquette) to use it to counter that image with their own information.

    Shouting baby killers is not really contributing to the conversation but those people will be unfollowed, blocked, etc. Trolls and flamers will be ignored and move elsewhere.

    That people were unwilling to move because you suggested it? That's not a sign of immaturity. That's not a toddler tantrum. That's about a conversation reaching a critical mass. #NestleFamily is where the conversation about Nestle was and so that's where people who wanted to talk about it went.

    If people crashed the actual event, or a private chatroom, or hacked a page, that's one thing. In this case Nestle had a conversation in a public forum because it wanted the just didn't get the publicity it wanted.

    And, as far as contacting advertisers on certain blogs, people are not talking about those who made a choice one way or the other to attend the event or boycott Nestle or not...they are talking about some nasty hate speech from someone who was not at the event.

    That is about owning your words. I tend to agree with letting karma take care of things...but I saw the tweets to which you are referring and I interpreted it differently.

  3. I think it is a little unfair and misleading to use the term 'Nestle boycotters' as a label for the few people who made over the top comments and imply everyone who supports the boycott acted the same. Just as it is wrong to make conclusions about the bloggers who attended from a few posts that were dismissive of any concerns about Nestlé.

    I became aware of this event because of the traffic coming to Baby Milk Action sites from people posting links and the vast majority of posts from people trying to raise awareness of Nestle malpractice, respond to some bloggers requests for questions to ask and correct Nestle misinformation relayed by some bloggers were polite.

    Undoubtedly many more people are aware of issues around Nestle's baby milk marketing and other concerns due to this and related blogs. When Nestle came online I did offer to hold a Tweet debate with Scott Remy, but this was not taken up - but then Nestle has refused to debate with Baby Milk Action since losing a series of them, mainly at UK universities, between 2001 -2004.

    I have posted a blog responding to some questions raised as a result of this, which links to an earlier blog with my thoughts on why Nestle holds events like this, at:

    I hope that those who did attend will not be put off looking at the evidence and blogging both about that and how they were mis-led by Nestlé.

    A current campaign is to press Nestlé to remove logos from its formula that claim it 'protects'. You can see an example on my blog purchased recently in Malawi, Africa, a country with under-5 mortality of 140 per 1,000 live births, and there are links to our Campaign for Ethical Marketing action sheet.