Navigating Covid Conspiracies

posted 3 weeks ago in The Lounge
Post # 2
1165 posts
Bumble bee

What will ease her mind is the passage of time and the realization that you’re fine after the vaccine.  You can’t reason with delusion.

Post # 3
449 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2021

I’m sorry you’re going through this! It is incredibly difficult to have a loved one so distressed and know there’s nothing you can say to help them. Frustratingly, facts are not the best way to reach conspiracy theorists, since they have their own sets of “facts” that will counterract anything you say. Instead, some research suggests that what is most likely to effecively confront science denial is a trustworthy deliverer of information. For example, a person who has been convinced that the covid vaccine is going to send microchips into the brain won’t be persuaded by a fact sheet published by the Mayo Clinic, but she might be persuaded by that same exact information if her trusted family physician of twenty years is the one to tell her the vaccine is safe. Is there someone like that in your mom’s life who she could talk to? Encouraging her to have a real conversation about this with a source she deems trustworthy might make a difference for her. 

Post # 6
9539 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

I have a difficult relationship with my mom, and struggled very much dealing with her at the beginning of the pandemic over social distancing and mask wearing (she was still going about doing group activities with her friends unmasked 🤦‍♀️). 

At first my uncle and I both tried telling her about all the dangers, sending her reputable news articles, and trying to convince her to do otherwise in all kinds of ways, but it was a total waste of time — nothing could convince her she was wrong. 

So I guess from personal experience, my advice would be just to not engage about these topics with her if it just causes distress (from both directions). If you want to give it a good old college try to change her mind about things, by all means go ahead, but I would be prepared for it not to get you very far. 

Sorry for being such a negative Nancy, but I’ve found that the majority of people who start going down the rabbit hole with conspiracy theories are just too far gone.

Post # 7
2945 posts
Sugar bee

I’m in the same exact boat. My mom found out I got the vaccine (while pregnant) and did not react well. She tried to bait me into a fight about it but I just told her I made the decision I felt was best for my health and I feel good about it, and refused to engage further. The choices I make for my own health and safety are not up for discussion. Just as my mom has the right to make her own choices for her health and safety and doesn’t have to justify it to me. 

Honestly I used to get so worked up about this even just a few months ago. We’d get in these awful fights about politics as she got deeper and deeper into conspiracies and QAnon type stuff. But I’ve been in therapy for a few months now and have realized it’s not healthy for me to even engage with her on this stuff. She can believe whatever she wants. Not my circus, not my monkeys. So now I refuse to take the bait and will literally walk out of the room or hang up the phone if need be when she’s trying to argue with me about this stuff. 

Post # 8
1270 posts
Bumble bee

I just didn’t tell my mom I got the vaccine because I knew it would be a drama fest

Post # 9
3285 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: March 2017

I just wouldn’t engage with her when she goes on about the Covid conspiracies. If she is crying and upset that someone in the family was vaccinated, I would tell her that you made your own choice and you aren’t going to discuss it with her. I would actually not try to argue with her or send her websites or articles to change her mind. I would just maybe bring up sometimes how well you are doing after the vaccine and how glad you are that you got it. I feel like the more interest you give to changing her mind the more she’ll probably dig in. Hopefully this will be a phase, she’ll eventually move onto some other conspiracy, and she will get the shot. If she never gets the shot just remember that it is something that is out of your control. I work with people with mental illness plus my mom had it. Your mom is very scared and this conspiracy theory gives her a sense of control on a scary world. I find that it is not productive to argue with someone who has a delusion/strong belief in something. It just makes them more scared and dig in their heels more. 

Post # 10
2114 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2019

Well, I’m using my brother and SIL’s batshit conspiracy theories as a reason to just not talk to them or see them indefinitely…possibly forever? I understand that it’s much harder when it’s a parent though. Like the others have said, once someone is down the rabbit hole, there’s nothing any one person can say that can bring them back. I had a brief stint as an anti-vaxer back in my early twenties (thanks in part to the SIL I now don’t talk to anymore), and what got me out of it was honestly reading pro-vaccine comments, repeatedly, over a long period of time, NOT from people I know. Ironically, I had to get a meningitis vaccine before I transferred colleges, and I went crazy trying to get a religious exemption (I’m an atheist lol). It didn’t work, I got the vaccine, read the literature they provided, and finally snapped out of it. 

So, all of that to say, I get how their minds work, and there’s really nothing you can do. They have to want to think logically again. It super sucks. 

Post # 12
5761 posts
Bee Keeper

Ooof that’s a hard one. I’m wondering if after a while if you and your brother getting it she’ll see that nothing bad happened and rethink it? 

Which conspiracy is she following? That way maybe we can have some specific advice.  Like a question you can ask her to plant the seed that the conspiracy might not be correct?  Because going and outright saying it’s wrong will likely make her dig her heels in. 

Post # 13
340 posts
Helper bee

This is sad, bottom line you can’t argue with stupid. You do you and get your vaccine and if she finds out and gives you a hard time say “got diphtheria….thought not, thank a vaccine” and just leave her to it. 

Post # 14
3603 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2018

I mean, something like 10 million people in the US are fully vaccinated and there’s no sign of associated adverse affects. Meanwhile, more half a million people here have died of Covid in one year.

Like, can she do simple arithmetic?!? how is this even a question? If the vaccine were dangerous, we would know by know. Argh, conspiracy theory people who don’t understand reality are so frustrating. I’m sorry you’re going through this. 

Post # 15
13908 posts
Honey Beekeeper

I’d google the topic as there are many relevant articles about this very thing, as you can imagine. Common notes are to stay calm and patient, never shame or yell, know when to give up, try to find common ground, for example you think it’s good they are asking questions and doing independent research. Acknowledge this is a scary time and it’s understandable that people feel they don’t always know who or what to trust.

Who and what are their sources? Remind them about past conspiracies. You can find people in any field willing to say anything. Ask questions, and consider what these people might have to gain by promoting these theories, ie fame, money, or power.

How far down the rabbit hole is the person? There is a wide range from true believers to those who think there is room for doubt. The former are generally a lost cause, though you may make progress over time. The latter may be convinced by showing them credible sources from the other side. 

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