I understand. You’re scared, and worried, and upset, and you want to let everyone know how you feel.
If your child ends up hospitalized due to whooping cough, or chicken pox, or measles…or maybe, if they simply catch it and are doing okay (depending on how much you dislike illness), you want someone to blame. You want to show people the “reality” of these diseases…and beg them to help these diseases stop happening.
These stories are popping up almost weekly on social media. (I guess that isn’t that much, since we’re talking hundreds of millions of people in several different countries — something to keep in mind.) Whenever they do, tens of thousands will share them, and warn people. The media will pick them up, and plaster them all over the place, with dire warnings to “anti-vaxxers” to see what lies ahead of them if they don’t smarten up and vaccinate.
I understand, I really do. It feels like a “trump card” when your child has unfortunately been ‘the one’ to experience the illness or the complications. The proof that you were really right all along, and that people really must vaccinate. You hope that your story will reach the people who need to read it, and that you’ll convince more people to see things your way…and vaccinate their babies.
But you won’t.
It’s so predictable, every time. A mother (or father) shares her/his story, earnestly hoping that s/he will change peoples’ minds. Several friends and family members encourage her and tell her how brave she is and how sorry they are that her baby is sick. They tell her how needed her message is, and how people just don’t get how serious this stuff is, and how her story will make a difference. She feels justified in having shared it.
Then it reaches a wider audience.
People who are already suspect of vaccines do not read these stories — especially if shared angrily, with name-calling directed towards “anti-vaxxers” (as is often the case) and say “You know what, I was clearly wrong.” No, it only makes them frustrated.
The stories are picked apart. The mother (or father) is ridiculed. People will stalk the mother’s Facebook page for additional details and often find that the child was treated with OTC medications or antibiotics or was recently vaccinated. They will blame these things for the child’s illness and/or complications.
Basically, these stories only draw the battle lines. They do not help anyone to “see the light.” They make people cling more firmly to the beliefs they already held. Right or wrong, this is the truth.
Can I ask you, please, to stop sharing them? It’s not because I don’t want you to share your passion. It’s because I understand what your goal is, and I know — especially if you are angry and say harsh things — that you will be accomplishing the opposite of what you set out to do.
Also — even though this is wrong — many mothers are targeted by activists when they share these stories. They are the victim of nasty private messages and comments. Their stories are splashed all over many different media sources and blogs. Some are respectful (I try to be), but many are not. Screenshots are taken, and even if posts are later deleted, they’re not really gone.
To protect yourself, especially during a stressful time, it’s really best that you don’t share your story, especially while you are upset.
Vaccines are a hot topic, and a big decision for many families. They’re not something people should be deciding for, or against, based on someone’s story. Facts are important.
So please, please. Stop sharing these big, scary stories and these angry pronouncements. It only divides people, when we are all just trying to keep our kids healthy and safe.
Mamas Interested in Medical Choice