Previous: Feelings, Little Tunnels, and Oprah: It's Question Tuesday with Ashley C. Ford



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Last sync:2023-01-03 05:45
I think there is a place for taking the time to fight against individual claims...but the thing you don't want to do is engage with the people who are not going to be convinced by anything...the people who have tied their identity and often even their livelihoods to believing that the government is trying to kill people (or something) because engaging with them only shines more light on them, and they will never run out of ways to move the goalposts and extend the argument. THAT'S THEIR JOB AND THEY LIKE IT!

But when someone asks me, "Why did it seem like vaccines were going to solve everything, and now it doesn't seem like they are?" that's not a question to get mad at, it's a normal question that people have about their world. But then there are the questions that people have because they've been engaging with the professional misinformers. Questions like, "Why don't you think the vaccines are more harmful than the virus when...**some long string of quacky theories about hidden vaccine-related illness**" and the answer is just like, "Because you're being manipulated and everything you just said was a lie." The answer I want to have to that isn't "stop lying." Instead it's "I am so grateful to the people who made these vaccines (and their distribution) possible, and who have freed me from some of the frustration and fear that I've experienced over the last year, and people saying that those folks are evil or ignorant are doing them (and you) a tremendous disservice."
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[Transcript available in English and Spanish
Transcripción disponible en inglés y español]


Good morning John.

I do not love to talk with the internet about the times when I am discouraged. And I'm not saying that I ignore my frustrations—I totally don't.

[making air quotes] They're just not "for the content."

Like, I want my friends and family to help me out with that stuff.

But right now, I'm discouraged by something, and I've learned enough about it that it's, I think, worth talking about. I am discouraged by this.

[inserts graph]

Now this isn't a monolithic thing. There are multiple reasons why people haven't gotten vaccinated yet. But I have seen a lot of vaccine misinformation, and I am discouraged by it.

And I wrote in my script about particular kinds of people who are vaccine misinformants. I'm just gonna leave it out. I don't wanna talk about that.

Let's just say there is some folks who want to create division and fear to exploit it for their own personal gain, and leave it at that.

My first instinct, when I see these arguments, is to go one by one and pick them apart.

Yes, young people do need to get vaccinated to slow down the spread of the disease and have fewer human bodies in which it can mutate. Yes, the vaccine is effective. Counties with lower vaccinations rates have higher hospitalization rates, and COVID rates in nursing homes plummeted after that first round of vaccines.

And yes, COVID is a real problem. There were 300,000 more deaths in 2020 than there were in 2019. And that's with all of the precautions people were taking.

But do you know what I see being done with that when I do that? Is just more yelling, and confusion, and just more and more things I've never heard being thrown at me. Another argument that I haven't heard yet.

And I do not want to, and cannot become a professional vaccine arguer.

I'm sorry, but none of it makes much sense in the first place, so it's clear that this isn't based in like, rational debate. It's based in partisan division and fear.

Now, I'm all for increasing the amount of good information out there. I just think that these public-facing arguments never actually do that work.

And so sometimes I am tempted, instead of arguing, to mock. But that's even worse. That's just falling into my worst instincts. All it does it make that division deeper and wider. And it makes it awful hard for people to come back over it.

If your goal is to get engagement on social media, that's the way to do it. If your goal is to get more people vaccinated, you are doing the opposite of what you should be doing.

And lastly, I have been a little bit tempted to make my vaccination status and my pro-vaccine status a big part of my identity. Just like throw it out there and put it in people's faces and be like, "Look! See? We're excited and enthusiastic about this. Take that!"

And I look at that and it's kinda getting there? But it's not there. Because as long as it is about winning this war, it will be about perpetuating the war.

So all of that seems like it's just making this worse. But I think I found two things that don't.

First, just answering good-faith questions. When people are confused, when they're conflicted, helping them. It's not about winning, it's about helping.

But second, and most powerfully and importantly, you know what gets the most support and is the most welcoming and creates the least debate? Gratitude.

I am so thankful to the many thousands of people who have been working as hard as they ever have in their lives for the past 15 months to get these vaccines ready.

I'm grateful to the people who built the testing infrastructure, and who did the tests, and who administered the vaccines. And the people who through all of this, have been caring for the sick.

And I am so grateful to now have some immunity from COVID without having had to have experienced the symptoms of COVID or become potentially a carrier who could make someone more vulnerable than myself sick.

I am in awe of the dedication and work that has gone into fighting this virus. And there is no counter argument to that because that work happened. Those people did that work.

And it's also not about a partisan fight. It's just how I feel! Does anybody think that the gratitude I feel toward the tens of thousands of nurses and firefighters who administered COVID shots is about like, winning a partisan war? No, it's just an emotion I have!

And it's an emotion that makes me feel better about the world. And maybe, it's an emotion that might make someone think twice about the fear and the anger that they have instead.

John, I'll see you on Tuesday.



Buenos días John.

A mi no me encanta hablar en internet sobre los momentos en los que estoy desanimado. Y no estoy diciendo que ignoro mis frustraciones, definitivamente no. Solamente que ellas no son para contenido. Porque, yo quiero que mis amigos y familia sean los que me ayuden con esas cosas.

Pero ahora mismo, estoy desanimado por algo. Y he aprendido lo suficiente sobre ello, que creo que vale la pena hablarlo.

Estoy desanimado por esto.

[inserta gráfico]

Ahora bien, esto no es algo monolítico. Hay multiples razones por las cuales las personas aún no se han vacunado. Pero he visto un montón de desinformación, y estoy desanimado por ella.

Y escribí en mi guion sobre personas particulares que desinforman acerca de las vacunas. Pero lo voy a dejar por fuera. No quiero hablar de eso.

Solo digamos que hay gente que quiere crear división y miedo para explotarlo en beneficio propio, y dejémoslo ahí.

Mi primer instinto cuando veo esos argumentos, es el de ir de uno en uno y separarlos.
Sí, las personas jóvenes necesitan ser vacunadas para retrasar la propagación del virus y que este tenga menos cuerpos humanos en dónde mutar. Sí, la vacuna es efectiva. Los Condados con menor rango de vacunación tienen mayores rangos de hospitalización, y las tasas de COVID en los hogares de ancianos se desplomaron después de esa primera ronda de vacunas. 

Y sí, el COVID es un problema real. Hubieron más de 300,000 muertes en 2020 que en 2019. Y eso es con todas las precauciones que estaban tomando las personas.

¿Pero sabes qué veo que se está haciendo con eso cuando lo analizo? Solamente más gritos, y confusión, y más y más cosas de las que nunca he escuchado, siendo lanzadas hacía mí. Y siguen llagando más argumentos de los que no he escuchado aún.

Y yo no quiero ni puedo convertirme en un argumentador profesional sobre las vacunas. Lo siento, pero en primer lugar, nada de eso tiene mucho sentido, entonces está claro que esto no está basado en debates racionales. Está basado en divisiones partidistas y miedo. 

Ahora, estoy en total acuerdo con incrementar la cantidad de información buena allá afuera.  Solo pienso que estos argumentos de cara al público en realidad nunca hacen ese trabajo.

Y entonces, a veces me he atrevido a hacer mofa en vez de argumentar. Pero eso es aún peor. Eso es caer en mis peores instintos. Todo lo que hace es ampliar y profundizar esa división, y hace horriblemente dificíl que las personas regresen de ello. 

Si tu meta es la participación en las redes sociales, entoces esa es la forma de hacerlo. Si tu meta es que más personas se vacunen, estás haciendo lo opuesto a lo que deberías estar haciendo.

Y finalmente, he estado tentado ha hacer de mi estatus de vacunado y estatus de pro-vacunas, una parte grande de mi identidad. Solamente ponerlo allá afuera (en la red y el mundo), y ser como: "¡Mira, ¿lo ves? Estamos emocionados y entuciasmados por esto. Tomen eso!"

Y veo eso y, ¿casi lo está consiguiendo? Pero aún no lo ha conseguido.  Porque mientras se trate de ganar esta guerra, se tratará también de perpetuar la guerra.

Entonces todo eso parece estar haciendo que esto empeore. Pero creo habre encontrado dos cosas que no lo hacen.

Primero, contestando las preguntas de buena fé. Cuando la gente está confundida, está en conflicto. Así que no se trata de ganar, se trata de ayudar.

Pero segundo, y creo que más poderoso e importante, ¿sabes qué obtiene más apoyo, es más bienvenido, y crea menos debates? La Gratitud.

Estoy tan agradecido con las miles de personas que trabajaron lo más que han podido en sus vidas durante los pasados 15 meses para conseguir tener esas vacunas listas. Estoy agradecido con las personas que construyeron las infraestructuras para hacer pruebas, y con los que administraron las vacunas. Y también con las personas que a lo largo de todo esto, han estado cuidando a los enfermos.

Estoy tan agradecido por ahora poder tener un poco de inmunidad contra el COVID sin haber tenido que experimentar los síntomas del COVID o convertirme en un potencial transmisor que pudo haber hecho de alguien más vulnerable que yo, un enfermo.

Estoy en extrema admiración por la dedicación y el trabajo que se ha ido en la lucha contra este virus. Y no hay ningún contrargumento a eso. Porque ese trabajo sucedió. Esas personas hicieron ese trabajo.

¡Y no se trata de una guerra partidista! ¡Es como me siento! ¿Alguna persona cree que el agradecimiento que siento hacía los miles de millones de bomberos que administraron dosis contra el COVID se trata sobre ganar una guerra partidista? No, es solo una emoción que tengo.

Y es una emoción que me hace sentir mejor sobre el mundo. Y quizás, es una emoción que pueda hacer pensar dos veces a alguien sobre el miedo y la rabia que pueda tener.

John, Te veré el martes.