In the darkest hour of the night
Why do we believe that the internet is about fostering community? What is community? The internet, the virtual is a smorgasbord of ideas, thoughts, bytes. Surfing the wave of the past, the present, and the future; we run smack dab into our community. Someone who thinks like us, who touches our thoughts, our dreams, our hopes. Yet unlike the street I live on in Realityville, the people walk the mean streets of the Virtual, veiled and hidden. Who are they? Are they really who they say they are? Who do they work for? Why are they saying what they are saying? Belief? Or are they the public relation hired hands, who feed on controversy. Willing to say anything to create a War of worlds? You say you know what is going on in the world of infant feeding. And I feel totally lost by the players, real and the imaginary ones who like to post vicious, nonsense. For what? For traffic's sake. And breastfeeding advocacy steps into the fray believing that the internet is community, that bloggers are really who they say they are and that the overheated comments are made by people who give a damn. All I see are the public relation trolls having a ball at everyone's expense. Why can't I see the world that others see?
So tell me, friend, explain to me why breastfeeding organizations and the infant formula industry are using the same mantras. At the Infant Nutrition Council website they state, "The Infant Nutrition Council recognises; that breastfeeding is the normal way to feed a baby." Everybody has dropped that Breastfeeding is Best for Breastfeeding is Normal. They also state that breastmilk is not free. So we seem to have found common ground, a shared usage of promotional words.
The Infant Nutrition Council is made up of infant formula manufacturers in Australia, as well as New Zealand infant formula marketers. Their membership includes, Bayer (yes, US readers Bayer makes infant formula...Novalac), Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd, H. J. Heinz Company Ltd, Nestle, Nutricia, Wyeth; asooicate members are the Dairy Goat Cooperative and Murray Goulburn Cooperative. They state that, "The Infant Nutrition Council will work in collaboration with other breastfeeding advocates such as the Australian Breastfeeding Association, the New Zealand Breastfeeding Authority and other NGOs."
"The Infant Nutrition Council is committed to supporting both breastfeeding and infant formula."
The Council does state "will work," meaning the future, right? Yet they make this other interesting statement. "The members of the Infant Nutrition Council work with key stakeholders to support the public health goals of promoting breastfeeding and good nutrition for infants." Who are these stakeholders?
Is this just more smoke and mirrors from the infant formula industry? Or has there been a change in viewpoint among breastfeeding organizations to "if ya can't beat them, join them?" I can't tell anymore. It seems like one huge masquerade ball. We have Prolacta (who advertises for donor human milk) aligned with Abbott, the infant formula manufacturer. And now the undercurrents, the eddies of new games in our Virtual Community.
In the darkest hours of the night, I think the world I once knew is no more. Nothing is what it seems. Whose PR team will win this War?
Copyright 2011 Valerie W. McClain