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While most folks spend their time being informed, following developments on the serious public health crisis in front of us and doing their part to keep each other safe, the pandemic has had a real unfortunate side effect of the odd person buying into some at times flat out strange disinformation narratives. Many who spend any kind of time on social media might have one or two of them in their contact lists... people who have succumbed to and confidently believe and repeat all kinds of wildly false and easily disprovable stuff as it relates to the virus’ severity, the government response and even vaccines. Sometimes it’s someone you didn’t expect to see it in such as a neighbour, family member or friend that’s giving an unfortunate first-hand example of the realities of the pandemic and how it effects different people in different ways. They often find others on social media who have fallen into the same trap, forming a sort of echo chamber that re-enforces beliefs as more common and factual than they are and ramps up emotions. I’m curious to learn more from others that have come across someone in their circles who have lost their way with facts along these lines..... -what do you feel it was that led to a logic breakdown that sent this person into the realm of misinfo... or have they always been the type to grasp at conspiracy theories? -have you seen common characteristics in people that lose their way? -have you confronted them on it with any results? -are you seeing friendships/relationships changed, strained or damaged as a result of someone that’s adopted and become engrained in such viewpoints? -where appropriate, have you seen any success in referring to available mental health resources? Knowing that in so many cases these are good folks caught up in such an unusual and trying time, my instinct is to look at any case I run into in a constructive way and would love to hear others’ experiences.
In fact there are times when people do lose their way and get caught up in a stream of misinformation that can harm them or the people around them. After watching the movie ‘The Social Dilemma’ I can see how this can happen in today’s world. The best comment I can offer to this discussion is to be kind, offer the facts as best you can and then let the person work it through for themselves. In truth we are only responsible for our own views. But I’d that person is a child or vulnerable person being taken advantage of, each one of us should step in to provide support in anyway we can.
Thanks for a thoughtful, compassionate response. This story is from a little over a week ago now but goes into some of how the province has tried to combat disinformation in what the story refers to as a “dual pandemic.”
Closes by pointing out the importance of debunking... “If you get out there and correct the misinformation, I know it may not feel like it but we’re talking about moving the needle here, it really does work.” https://winnipeg.ctvnews.ca/mobile/the-dual-pandemic-manitoba-s-top-doctor-busy-debunking-disinformation-1.5195197
Just wanted to add for anyone that’s been following this topic.... a real in depth story that examines how people become victim to this sort of thing, some of the common fallacies that lead to some believing false stuff and how one can respond: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/nov/29/how-to-deal-with-a-conspiracy-theorist-5g-covid-plandemic-qanon
This is going to be long, but... I still have thoughts Not seeing any real first hand accounts in this thread and so maybe it’s not as common as it might seem even though I’ve seen a handful on local social media that fit the description. Important to be a little more clear what we’re talking about here. Not directing this at anyone in particular other than maybe posts from a conspiracy theorist or two that had to be removed. This is about facts and the fact that they matter and not whether one should give govts and authority figures a free pass. If someone wants to debate you on the earth being flat, there are no sides to the debate, there is no debate. The earth is a sphere. The facts are clear. In saying that the earth is spherical, one isn’t taking a side… they’re stating a scientifically established, known fact. By even calling it a “side” to baselessly and confidently take the position the earth is flat, a person is undermining what’s factually established. What we’re talking about isn’t a simple case of someone suggesting that gov should look at tweaking lockdown orders or that the planet is flat. Example of the kinds of wild conspiracy theories you’ll see... that all of the world’s governments (left and right, many of which likely don’t exactly get along), media and “elite” collectively known as “them” are collaborating together to use an imagined Covid virus to turn us all into computer-chipped mindless zombies.... all somehow without leaving a shred of factual evidence. Stuff that feels ridiculous just to type that hasn’t earned the right to be called a side any more than the flat earther’s stuff does, probably even less so if possible. Whether it’s just needing something to believe in during a difficult time or looking for attention this is the kind of person that often needs some level of assistance... an especially delicate tightrope to walk if they happen to be someone in one's circle.
Govt and officials have and I’m sure will continue to make some mistakes in the response but these aren’t the folks you want feeling they have the role of holding government accountable. What they do is crowd the airwaves and undermine the ability of the rest of us to factually question government when criticism can simply be written off as coming from a bunch of conspiracy theorists with no regard for fact. You’re even starting to see it creep into provincial Covid briefings where officials are having to spend time debunking totally baseless stuff... and any time spent debunking is less time spent answering questions by someone like a CBC Bartley Kives or the Brandon Sun who are in part of their roles bringing about a lot of accountability and asking often tough questions that help to inform (if you haven't watched the questioning portion of these briefings I'd recommend it to understand the sometimes tense relationship and tug-o-war between media, officials and communications staff that works toward answers and, where necessary, accountability). As much as I started this thread with having seen a few examples in my own social feed it was really from the perspective that I’m seeing conspiracy theory mindset showing up in the odd person in the community that I wouldn’t have expected it in. I’ve seen the divisions that that leads to in the US and hate the thought of it becoming any more of an issue here than it already is. It’s one thing for people to get past what shape the earth is (you can all just live on the same earth and agree that your lives are fundamentally the same either way as long as you make a pact to never sail accross too many oceans together). It’s another if the conspiracy theories actually support and spread false info that would lead to lost lives, and whether it’s a acquaintance, a neighbour or even in some rare cases the owner of a business you frequent...that’s a hard thing to look the other way on if they're going as far as actively trying to spread it which is where the link in my prev post might come in. At the end of the day a guy can hope the best for some of these folks, that as the pressures, worries, fears and anger from all of these changes subside so too will some of the grasping for alternate realities. But before we get there there’s some responsibility to try to limit the damage they can potentially do to the response to this awful virus in the months leading up to and through what sure looks like an eventual vaccine.
This really wasn’t meant to be a debate about religion. That would be an example where so long as one’s viewpoint isn’t harming anyone and they aren’t trying to push it on someone else, there’s plenty of room to agree to disagree and respect how one finds their own happiness. Myself am not religious but some of my better friends are and it’s actually quite awesome and a great example of how far common ground and common values can go across differing viewpoints.
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