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Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Proudly yelling at the unvaxxed

It’s hard not to bristle a little at the latest advice regarding how to deal with anti-vaxxers. Everywhere you turn, we (the vaccinated) are told to never argue and berate but rather to speak calmly, avoid demeaning language and basically treat them like we’re a hostage negotiator. That’s my takeaway but it seems about right since the unvaxxed are holding the country hostage.

OK, I may have some work to do.

I want to speak to the few unvaxxed friends I have left in the gentle, respectful manner we are told every day now by the experts to use. But it’s the funniest thing. Every time I try to say: “Tell me how you are doing with all this” it comes out, “What the hell is wrong with you?”

Yes, sooooo much work to do.

There have been so many news stories lately about how the vaxxed have actually made things worse by our imperious nagging. We must never insult or demean someone simply because they have their own opinions and beliefs which they believe to be valid and we should honor their decision process. OK, Ima need a moment here. And a likker drink.

I have unvaxxed friends with various reasons for refusing to get jabbed. But how to bridge the conversation gap? The new message is “Do not be confrontational” which is hard when someone you love is ignoring science and embracing every wackadoodle, wrongheaded, selfish shred of QAnon quackery out there. What? What’d I say?

Top behavioral scientists say we’ve got to move off this shaming strategy because it is not helping. It’s actually making things worse! Heels are being dug in. (You know what else is being dug? Fresh graves for people who leave behind videos begging the unvaxxed not to be as foolish as they were.)

We were sooooo close to getting back to normal. We could practically taste it. But thanks to the unvaxxed we’re wearing masks everywhere again because some of y’all honestly believe spoons and forks are gonna fly from drawers and jump on you if you get the shot.

The new “Kill ‘em with kindness” advice isn’t new at all. Rather, it’s as old as the first teenage girl who dated a bad boy and the parents played it cool instead of making the boy seem even more appealing by saying things like “He has a prison record” or “He’s an unvaccinated moron.” Sorry. Again, I have a long way to go.

The advice from the experts on how to talk to an unvaccinated friend is clear. Tell them you love them (gulp). Tell them you want to just listen, that you are a safe space, that you are…OK, seriously? This guy who smoked on the school bus in 7th grade thinks he knows more than Fauci and I’m supposed to “honor” that?

I took the experts’ advice for a test drive last week, meeting an unvaccinated friend and talking through our masks while socially distanced.

The discussion started with me asking in the recommended respectful, approachable tone if this person had had the opportunity to remove her head from her posterior long enough to realize the health care system is crumbling all over again as beds fill up with nearly 100 percent unvaccinated COVID patients.

Ack. I meant to say “Pass the sugar.”

She’s in the “until it’s approved by the FDA, I’m not getting it” camp and I should’ve smiled (not that she could see it) and said, “I respect your stance” but it came out, “What the hell do you think is going to happen? The microchip in the vaccine gets activated and everyone has to use Bing because Bill Gates says so?

She stormed out and I don’t blame her. I really have to work on my “tone” apparently.

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Write her at [email protected].

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