Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is John Oberg. I live in Richmond, Virginia. My day job consists of using social media as a platform to amplify a message of compassion for animals. This is set up through Patreon.
You can find me here online:
Official website: JohnOberg.org
My Patreon Page: Patreon.com/JohnOberg
What lead you to veganism?
I went vegetarian based on the principle that if I consider myself an animal lover, I probably shouldn’t eat animals. 10 months later, after watching Earthlings and learning about the true horror that farm animals face (including dairy cows and egg-laying hens), I chose to go vegan. Best decision ever.
Tell us about our journey to activism? Why are you an activist?
I am an activist because I recognize that we can do exponentially more good by focusing on getting others to become vegan rather than just simply focusing on our own veganism. Exponential growth is key if we are to make a difference.
What type of activism are you involved in?
I’ve done tons of grassroots, street activism, and now my main focus is by utilizing social media. I do this because it’s where I can have the biggest impact on a large scale. In one year of leafleting, I was able to hand out 250,000 leaflets, which I was very happy with. In the past 12 months (2019) of doing social media activism, however, I was able to accumulate 200,000,000 impressions of my content on social media. So now I like to sprinkle in street activism while primarily focusing on the great reach that social media can have.
How did you get your social media knowledge?
I got my social media knowledge by paying close attention to the kinds of activity that worked on social media and the kinds that didn’t. Over time, that steered my vision for creating an optimal social media presence that could do the most amount of good for animals.
What are some common mistakes you see activists performing on social?
The most common mistake that I see activists perform on social media and beyond is thinking emotionally rather than rationally. Our goal shouldn’t be too one-up a meat-eater or make yourself feel superior to them. Our goal should be to win their heart and mind. We need to meet people where they are, not where we want them to be. Especially when you consider the fact that most of us were in their shoes just a few months or years ago.
What are some tips you can give activists to maximize their social reach?
Some tips for activists to maximize their social reach is to pay attention to what performs well (i.e. garners the most likes, comments, and shares). Push that content out as much as you can, within reason and without annoying your followers. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and ask yourself, “If I saw this on my newsfeed, would I feel compelled to engage with it?”
What were your thoughts and feelings before your first activism event?
I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect, but I realized that there is nothing to be nervous about because almost everyone is already opposed to animal cruelty, so we have a winning message.
How do you feel you are most effective as an activist?
I am most effective as an activist when I encourage other activists to become as effective as possible, both in tactics and communication. Specifically by utilizing social media to the best of their ability and by communicating the animals’ message in a way that is most likely to solicit actual behavior change.
What’s been your most memorable moment as an activist? Toughest moment?
My most memorable moment was my first foray into activism with my mom as we fought against a deer cull at our local metro park. I was 10 years old. It was also my toughest, as our efforts didn’t sway the decision and the deer cull continued. But it was the first time in my life that I realized that when an injustice is occurring, you CAN speak up against it
What is your favorite type of activist event?
My favorite type of activism is doing social media work because it is where I am most effective. Similarly, every activist needs to ask themselves if the outreach/activism they’re engaged in is the best way they can use their time/efforts/resources. The animals need us to be as effective as possible.
When you first went vegan, how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?
I went vegetarian for 10 months, then after I watched Earthlings, I went vegan. Slowly transitioning to veganism is the way that works best for most people, so we should celebrate progress towards veganism.
Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into products?
Being vegan means aligning your behavior with ethics that you already have. Almost everyone is opposed to animal cruelty, so it’s as simple as choosing to live and eat in a way that matches these values that you already have. It doesn’t require adopting some new worldviews.
Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist? What form of activism do you take part in?
Every vegan needs to understand that in order to create a ton more change for animals, positively influencing others is essential. Even if you aren’t on the streets promoting the message, just positively influencing the idea of veganism to the people around you is a great way to make a difference.
Are you the activist you want to see in the world?
I want to see activists being as effective as possible. And that’s what I try to be every single day.
What personal recommendations can you make for people to get involved in activism?
Look up local groups through Facebook, Meetup.com, and Instagram. Do a variety of forms of activism and find the ones that speak best to you. Additionally, ask yourself if you think that a particular form of activism is effective in actually helping animals (not just making you feel good). If the answer is YES, then continue that work!
How do you balance your well being and activism?
I have outside interests, particular playing/watching soccer, attending concerts, and traveling. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Avoiding burnout is essential, and so for that reason, it’s important to have outside interests. It also shows others that I’m not a zealot. It’s important to come off as relatable.