Social media is a major culprit which has led to more scepticism about vaccinations.
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There is an unwritten rule that politics and religion should never be discussed at the dinner table.
Why ruin a good meal because of different opinions, right?
With Covid-19 taking the world by storm, you can add talking about getting vaccinated and masking up to that list.
But why would the two things that are most important at combating the virus be something people disagree on?
Well, there’s a group of people who are not complying, giving unsubstantiated claims that they do more harm than help, and “my body, my choice.”
And I bet you there is at least one person you are “friends” with on social media that fall into that group.
You could choose to block or even delete this person from your friend’s list, but sometimes decades of friendship or a lifetime of being family is worth the time to brave the white noise.
Here are 4 tips given by experts on how to talk to anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers.
1. Understand their stance
Before going all pro-vaccine/ masking on your friend or family, try to understand on what basis they oppose getting the vaccine or masking up.
It’s easy to get angry when someone opposes your views. I guess you could say that’s how they feel when mainstream media and authorities debunk theirs.
So, just stay calm, ok?
Dr Jessica Steier of the Unbiased Science Podcast advises listening first. Try to address their specific concerns while being aware that they may have been exposed to distortions of science that gives them a false sense of authority and confidence.
2. Validate first, lay it on them second
If there are a lot of apprehensions about their reluctance to get vaccinated or mask up, psychologist Xialou Jiang tells Verywell Family we should “one hundred percent validate” their concerns.
For example, if there are worried about what is injected into their bodies, you could say, “Yes, we are all concerned about what we inject into our bodies.”
Be sure that the message and how it is presented is delivered in such a way that will resonate with the person you are speaking to.
Are they more emotional, or logical?
Dr Jiang also says she found the word ‘but’ can immediately put someone on the defensive. So, don’t use ‘but’ and instead rephrase to say something like ‘at the same time’ or ‘can we look at it from this angle?’.
After all the Internet research your anti-vax/mask friend or family member has done, encouraging critical thinking by asking more questions may coerce rational thought in them and perhaps even change what they are curious or sceptical about.
3. Know when to stop
It’s easy to get carried away in discussion sometimes. And hopefully, before even having this conversation with your anti-vax/mask friend, you too would have had solid, science-based facts to back up your stance.
Unfortunately, our views and feeling about health and well-being are deeply personal and complex, and unlikely to change overnight.
Once you’ve said your piece, your heart and mind can be in peace.
4. Threats only make them stronger
The government has a lot of authority to crack down on these anti-vaxxers/maskers with legal action to be taken against anyone spreading “fake news”.
Unfortunately, these kinds of threats sometimes make them stronger.
Take for example Kerry, aka KLCC Karen who became a viral (no pun intended) sensation for choosing not to wear a mask while trying to enter a luxury fashion store.
Not long after the repeat offence, she took to social media not to apologise, but to contest her actions by saying it’s her freedom to choose.
In retrospect, what netizens should have done instead of mock her was to just be compassionate and try to understand where she was coming from… then lay it on her with science.
Former advertising mad woman - turned mother to an amazing little girl born 3 months early - and now a returned writer. Also a textbook ambivert with no clue about today's pop music but a walking encyclopedia of music from the 80s and 90s.