Because fuck you.
I’m trying to be nicer to people these days, and I expect my wife is going to be disappointed in me for what I’m about to write, but if you’re anti-vaccine, fuck you. Fuck you in every hole.
She’s a doctor and doesn’t get to say that. I’m just a guy with social media following, so different rules apply.
As a physician, there is a bond of trust and the opportunity to gently sway one’s patients toward science-based thinking regarding the safety and efficacy of vaccination. One-on-one, physicians and other healthcare professionals do excellent work to coax anti-vaccine believers away from dangerous pseudoscience and toward the use of life-saving interventions that make their families and everyone they come into contact with healthier.
I’m not convincing anyone with my diatribes. I know that.
Well, maybe a few people I’ve brought around with my ranting, profanity-filled articles about the flu shot (one, two, three), but I’m not going to win any committed anti-vaxxers over to my side.
And I’m not trying to. I’m trying to shame them into shutting the fuck up.
I was a teen in the 80s and went to a high school with 1,800 other kids, and I didn’t know any gay students. That doesn’t mean they didn’t exist, but that they were too afraid to come out except to their closest friends because so many of us were horribly fucking ignorant back then and lots of people were free with their homophobic commentary and never got called on it. I mean, did you see Eddy Murphy’s comedy from that time?
But a shift began where it became less okay to say things like that. People began to get chastised for homophobic slurs, shamed for it. And it escalated where if you outed yourself as homophobic and said these terrible things, you got your ass handed to you.
AS IT FUCKING SHOULD BE!
I expect a lot of those people didn’t change their minds much, but they learned to shut the fuck up, because there were social consequences to spreading bullshit. And because they began to shut the fuck up, the next generation didn’t learn it.
In the United States, as many as 80,000 people die from the flu each year. It’s the most deadly virus in North America. What’s more, each year up to a million people need to be hospitalized for it. In a land without socialized medicine, even if it doesn’t kill you, it can be bankrupting to catch the flu.
Comparatively, guns kill about 35,000 people in the U.S. each year and injure around 75,000. And gun violence is a major fucking issue that people are rightfully pissed about, so I think we should also be pissed about the fact that people are spreading misinformation about the flu shot, which contributes to the abysmally low vaccination rates. (Only 45% of adults in the U.S. get the flu shot each year.)
Here is the problem. Lots of people say, “I’m not anti-vaccine, but I don’t get the flu shot because [insert some unscientific bullshit here].”
No. You don’t get to say that. If you’re anti-flu vaccine, you’re anti-vaccine. You’re one of the WORST anti-vaxxers there is, because look at those fucking death rates from the flu. Again: fuck you in every hole.
And I’m not going to coddle or understand or condone your bullshit. I’m going to call it out and fucking shame you every chance I get. And plenty of those social media followers are too (i’M aN iNfLuEncEr!).
If you see someone proclaiming anti-vaccine sentiments, shame the shit out of them like they just used a horribly bigoted slur. And do NOT cut them slack if they say they’re only against the flu shot. Go at them even harder. Make them pay for spreading their dangerous dumbfuckery. Make them delete that thread in shame. Make them fear the spreading of deadly pseudoscience. Invite your friends and dogpile that dumbass.
This isn’t a “We need to hear both sides” kind of situation. There is proven science that saves lives, and there are assholes with blood on their hands.
And there is no point in being nice to assholes.
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James S. Fell, MA, MBA, has bylines in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, the Guardian, TIME Magazine, and many other publications. His blog has millions of readers and he is the author of two books: The Holy Sh!t Moment: How Lasting Change Can Happen in an Instant (St. Martin’s Press, 2019), and Lose it Right: A Brutally Honest 3-Stage Program to Help You Get Fit and Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind (Random House Canada, 2014). Order them here.