Anti-vaxers and social media, who’s really listening?

After recently finding out there is an anti-vaccination movement, being a vaccinated woman; I decided to, rather than assume my position on “my” side of the fence, curiosity killed the cat, and I stepped out in to the battle field, hilariously enough, on social media.

So with an open-mind and a thirst to quench my curiosity, I found serval groups, forums, pages, that we Anti-Vax, which I will not name.

Things were fine at first, I was learning and understand the reasons that anti-vax supporters make, and surprisingly a heavy and consistent influx of pro-vac supporters, insulting, degrading anti-vax members. I was completely shocked and appalled at some of the verbal abuse they were receiving, their personal lives being attacked, accusing them of wanting THEIR OWN CHILDREN to die.

Stop. Just stop

Do not get me wrong, some anti-vax supporters met their abusers with the same force. It is not one sided, but it was frequently provoked.

I was horrified and disgusted that I was a pro-vax supporter, so I expressed my “vaccination status”. Commenting that I was disgusted and humiliated that none of these human beings were being treated as they should be.

(Note – not every pro-vax supporter used bullying, aggression and pure hate to discuss their opinion; and the post is purely based on those who did. I also am very aware that it happens on both sides)

I was honestly shocked at how I was then treated by some anti-vac supporters, only some. To some, it was like I turned into a disgusting human being, and then no matter what I had to say, even if in their defence, I was no longer important, or had the right to comment.

Some were much more polite, just explaining that it was my lack of knowledge which was the deterrence.

Others went as far to accuse me of putting a lot of effort into making a mockery of the whole situation, and my interest and willing-ness to learn was purely fake.

So filled with rage, I took my ball and I went home. Having my first experience and opinion of anti-vaxers, and I most certainly was not impressed, I actually considered believing pro-vac statements of ignorance found commonly in the anti-vac community.

(Keep in mind, I never once argued about their choices, questioned the authenticity of their information. When I say I went in with an open mind, I truly did)

But mostly, I was angry and quite let down, that I wasn’t “grabbed” by the anti-vac community and bombarded with information; they were given a fresh mind to help understand,
And they completely turned their backs.

Feeling undefeated but still determined, I found another group, a little smaller group, still harassed, but fired back differently. I was able to have adult conversation, and ask questions with very few people questioning why I was there, but instead of being met with anger, tension, disgust.

I had people defend my right to be there, encouraging my need for understanding the anti-vac movement.

I also noticed now they handled little “attacks” from pro-vax supporters, some were quickly brushed off, because it was obvious that they were fed an opinion and were running with it, some were factual based, and those replies became a debate of facts, which were always fascinating.

This selected part of the anti-vac community had figured out who was actually worth their time, rather than just fuelling an argument over social media.

So while maintaining my information-food crusade. I began to watch how it was decided who was worth listening to, and replying to.

So, I created a list on how to keep your sanity as an anti-vax on social media.

Stop fueling the stereotype
– You are often referred to as an idiot, and a simpleton, that lack education and repels science, stop allowing them to continue to use that to their advantage because you “couldn’t take it anymore” and you dropped to their level and started degrading them too.

Do not feed the trolls
Some people are just looking for a fight, they really don’t give a fuck about being pro-vax or anti-vax. They just want to see people get angry and act like a fool. These people are easy to see. Don’t fall into it, they are always going to be “right” and they only want to piss you off for their amusement.

An example of someone who is just being a troll is comments like “my child needs “blah” medication in order to survive, should I just stop taking them and let my child die?”

Don’t even waste your time, don’t feed them. They will only succeed at making you look like a bad person or an idiot.

KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT
A good, and well informed anti-vax supporter will provide details and show where they got their information and statistics from.

Regardless if the person agrees with the information, just being able to provide it, shows that you understand and know what you’re talking about (although they will most often just say it’s wrong, it’s fiction, ignore it, they still read it)

Do not simply believe something because another anti-vax said it, that only keeps the idiocy and misinformed information circling.

Know when to walk away
If you start to feel like you’re playing chess with a pigeon. You are. Walk away, don’t persist, you’ll just go in circles. Don’t be proud, yes they are going to think the have won because you “back away or can’t answer” because that’s how they will always be, no matter what you say, even if they are wrong.

Just remember, chess with a pigeon will always go like this.

He’ll knock all these pieces down, shit all over the board and still fly off like he has won. Not worth it.

understand why YOU are anti-vax
No, seriously. It’s not something you can just choose casually one day, and then take it as you now have the right and responsibility to represent the anti-vaccination community on social media. That will just get messy, really quickly.

You should be confident in your decision. You should be able to tell anyone (only if you what to, you do not need to explain yourself)

The risks/rewards/reasons, not only for taking on the social media assassinations, but for you.

friend or foe?
Take the time to realise that there are people like me, that ask questions, and get involved to understand the anti-vax movement, don’t sit back and complain about being the minority, the bullied, the people that aren’t understood.

A victory is a victory. No matter how big or small, regardless if they stay pro-vax or become anti-vax. You still had to opportunity to help someone understand what you’re fighting for, or debunk silly pro-vac myths. Take it. That’s one less person in the world that is going to run around saying that you “choose death over autism”

Now; since I spent the time understanding I have finally made a choice on what side I want to support.

Both.

I support the right for people to vaccinate without judgement. I support the improvement and availability of vaccinations and immunisations.

And as with anti-vaxers. I also support their right to do so without judgement, I support their opinions without any accusation about them putting my child at risk.
The only thing I would like to happen as soon as possible, would be the promotion of anti-vax information without being completely biased, available to communities and the general public, even if it doesn’t encourage parents to be anti-vax, it still will stop them fearing a plague instantly spreading overnight and killing off the country, because one child at school isn’t vaccinated.

Well. That’s my take on it. Comments are open.

Note. I’m not a blog that talks about this kind of stuff, and I highly doubt I will again.

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