How to talk to people who deny the existence of the virus that has turned the world upside down

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Since March, people around the world have been living in at least two separate spheres of reality. A sphere is inhabited by those who have changed their daily habits in the light of the global crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic, guiding their actions according to their safety and the safety of others.

In the other realm, people who see the virus differently. Perhaps they consider security measures against the pandemic, such as wearing masks, to be a tyrannical cover for the government.

Maybe they have a certain fatalistic indifference to crowding in crowded restaurants or questioning the scientific consensus on vaccines and social distancing. One might even think that the pandemic is a farce dreamed of by Bill Gates as part of an effort to introduce a new world order.

If you are in the unfortunate camp of those who trust the universally accepted principles of science, it can be difficult to talk to friends, loved ones, or family members who fall into the opposite camp. You fear for their safety or you worry that they are victims of conspiracy theories.

In this case, you may feel morally obligated to talk to this person about the pandemic and its role in it. Here are a few ways to approach this difficult conversation.

Try to be empathetic

This is easier said than done. To save yourself from anxiety, try to look at this person as someone you might be able to help, rather than as someone who needs to be rebuked mercilessly.

While working to convince someone of an objective reality is insane, especially when the stakes are so high, you need to stay calm. Try to understand why this person feels the way they do and listen to their concerns, no matter how wrong they may seem to you.

Apparent curiosity might help

A good way to get someone to talk to you honestly is an approach with an innocent curiosity.

Sure, in this context, you’re probably not really curious about why they chose to participate in an anti-mask protest, but you’re working for a bigger cause here.

Moderate validation

You certainly don’t have to support someone’s conspiratorial thinking. Try to get this person to listen to the opposite view. If you reasonably validate a small part of their existing beliefs, this will work to your advantage.

Carry the conversation in a safe environment

You don’t need to have this conversation in front of an audience. It is not something to be put in front of the whole family during dinner or at any other event in which the world is willing to listen to your “dispute”.

If you think the person is approachable enough to be able to talk about these things, talk privately – preferably outside, where the risk of transmission is lower.

Present the facts to them

Now we come to the part where you think about it all the time. Once you have cultivated enough confidence, you need to give the real image firmly and calmly. Or at least counteract the marginal information mentioned in the conversation by quoting real facts and figures.

If you don’t have much information, read the news. For starters, newsletters of the Ministry of Health and the site they must be the main sources of information on the evolution of coronaviurs.

Beyond that, there is a large enough body of public knowledge about Covid-19 so that you really have everything you need to help this person at least start considering your perspective.

Masks help reduce the spread, mouthwash will not cure you of Covid-19, immunity is not a panacea, coronavirus can be transmitted through the air and so on. This is just a sampling of the details that you can indicate in a respectful way.

Understand that it may not work

Of course, all these are just tips that could make your conversation with a person whose opinions you do not share to flow more easily and without incident.

But the ultimate goal is not just to make that person give up on his or her beliefs and welcome yours. Let’s put fanaticism aside here.

After all, a final goal does not even exist in this situation, but there is only an attempt to make this small world in which we live a safer piece.

So if you managed to at least tell that person that it is important to maintain hygiene, wear a mask and not get too close to other people, you can rest assured knowing that he has – at least in theory – the minimum of information. necessary in order not to be a societal danger in these times.


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