Below is a scenario I recently encountered which was very familiar to me. Boringly so. I’ve tried to put some words around it in case recognising the flow and patterns of these hardcore anti-vaxxer engagements may help you out.
I don’t engage those I call “hardcore anti-vaxxers” because I think I’ll change their minds. There is no way I will change minds here – let’s be clear up front. Neither will you.
The members of this cult-of-belief seek only to sow uncertainty, to recruit more to their ranks, to lash out because of hurt, or to disrupt for the sake of it. They seemingly don’t care about the common good, or you, or being a citizen in a shared community. They only see darkness and harm among those making, prescribing, administering, advocating, encouraging or just discussing vaccines.
Occasionally some in the ranks of the anti-vaxxers have had a personal tragedy that has shaped their worldview. They blame that sad event – rightly or wrongly – on vaccination.
I don’t for one second try and change the mind of anyone in this group. But I think it helpful to be able to identify the signs of the anti-vaxxer early in an online conversation [I will happily chat – on or off social media – to anyone with doubts about vaccination who is seeking knowledge].
I engage anti-vaxxers for the off-target effects; to remind those among my Tweeps who lurk-to-learn rather than to engage. I want others to see that anti-vaxxer cultists – like others who prey on the fears of others for some sort of personal gain – are rarely able to back up the rubbish they preach with logic or reason or facts. They work in gangs or through loud volume, but never through quality content.
Of course, I’m not advocating you jump into this cesspool. It’s not exactly a fun time to be had by all. By all means, keep lurking and learning.
It never hurts to stretch this set of muscles. Resisting things like lies, and “fake news” is needed by more and more by all of us every day.