Last August, I had the privilege of interning with the AgChat Foundation at their first ever Agvocacy 2.0 Conference. I met a lot of people who I had known for some time via social media. Digital friendships became even more real and tangible. I had the opportunity to get face time with folks who I considered friends, but had only known through Facebook profiles and Twitter feeds.
One of the inside jokes that grew and evolved as the conference went on was the idea of “Agvodate.” Founded from an invented word, “Agvocate” (meaning “agriculture advocate”), it became a running joke to talk about the official AgChat dating service, Agvodate. A small group of girls always talked about finding ways to organize it. However, we were all busy and all had a list of reasons why it wasn’t a priority.
A few weeks ago during the weekly Twitter discussion that started it all, #AgChat, I made a passing comment about having an #Agvodate chat afterward as a sort of “singles after-party.” I accidentally derailed the conversation momentarily, which I felt awful for. Then, low-and-behold, there was a strong presence on the #Agvodate Twitter stream after #AgChat completed.
Over 350 tweets later, and there is suddenly an official #Agvodate Facebook fan page and plans for a weekly Twitter discussion following #AgChat.
Why this? Why bother? Why, of all the things to do with my rare bits of spare time, start a dating community for farmers on Twitter and Facebook? It’s definitely not the first. There are paid agricultural dating websites. Kissing Gates is a common farmer dating site in the United Kingdom. Farmers Only is a dating site spread over North America. Why bother starting a new “community” based on a Facebook page and a Twitter chat?
For starters, it’s fun. It’s purely a goofy, enjoyable, volunteer project currently run by myself, Brooke Clay (blog, Twitter), Jesse Bussard (blog, Twitter), and Aaron Bobeck (Twitter). Graphics thus far are done by Brooke, and the four of us are trying to spread out administrative responsibilities as best we can. For me, it’s a nice mode of stress-relief. As quoted by Jack Nicholson, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Well, all work and no play makes Kelly go a little nuts.
Secondly, it’s free. Do I think anyone will get hitched because of it? Highly, highly unlikely. However, I think, with the innovative heads we have put together on this (both among the admins and other users) we can at least give it a try and enjoy it while it lasts. We can try our best to get all the single farm kids we know to come hang out. Even if nothing outstanding happens, we at least run the risk of meeting some new people and perhaps making new friends.
Since the initial chat, my life has gotten pretty hectic and I haven’t been as hands-on with #Agvodate as I’d like. Brooke has done a fantastic job of being a driving force behind the weekly Twitter chat. The community has begun talking about having a tweet-up at some agricultural conferences over the next year or so. It’s standing on its own two feet, thanks to the creativity and enthusiasm of the users.
With all that said, I finish with this: we all need to have a little fun. Whether it is through organizing communities on social media, or some other means for blowing off steam, fun is a valuable part of life. It’s a part that I’m prone to forget now and then.