The Vax Wars – Battlefield: Interwebz

(NB: All quotes are copied and pasted exactly as written.)

This isn’t a blog post about whether you should vaccinate yourself.  Or your kids.  God only knows it would take months to dig myself out of the pile of hate from either/both side.

This is a blog about the way the two “sides” (I hate false dichotomies, but I did title this “Vax Wars”…) are representing themselves.  On the internet, specifically.  On Facebook, very specifically.

Most of my classmates are at least aware of the FB craziness around vaccination in the past few weeks.  Someone had originally posted something supportive of vaccinations on a rather “anti-vax” (as the slang goes) group’s page.  Soon enough, many more of us were joining in the debate, adding info, links, comments, whatever.  Things started out civilly enough.

Then… it got a bit out of hand.

I don’t engage in the kind of drivel you might normally see on this topic (you see that glow?  Yeah, that’s my halo) and was having a lively debate with one of the posters, sans Jenny-McCarthy-bashing.  Suddenly, the moderators were on.  After accusing me (and others) of being a “troll” spreading “biased untrue info,” I was blocked from posting ever again.  The post itself:

“attack of the pro vaccine trolls tonight!! as I have said many times.. this is not a “debate” forum, we are proud parents of unvaccinated children, and while we welcome with open arms ANYONE we do not allow people who come here wanting to start an uneducated debate.. posting “biased” untrue info .. I wont argue with you , I don’t have time for your petty ideas, or you “screen shots” of me telling YOU to GO AWAY… the info posted here is accurate ..we don’t make up facts.. please find something better to do with your time..what I see deemed as trolls will be simply blocked and banned.. we have many guest admins who have the same instructions and we don’t have time for your drama…we are here to save lives with FACTS…If you don’t like the way I run MY page… bye bye!! – A”

I was outraged.  And rightly so.  I’d done nothing wrong.  I hadn’t called anyone names or judged anyone for the choices they make.  Good God, I was just explaining how the varicella vaccine is made.  WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE UNIVERSE?!?!?!?!?

After the initial rage subsided, I started to take note of the comments posted after I was blocked.  I started copying and pasting them.  I started reading page after page of some of the most hateful, derogatory, and idiotic comments I’ve ever had the misfortunte of being the target of.  And there was absolutely no way to defend myself.

“come back when you know what the hell you are talking about…flu shots, and all other kinds of vaccines are pushed heavily on pregnant mothers…and most obgyns do pregnant titer test to see what the mother is immune too..dr google?? seriously… are you high on vaccines?”

“Jessica- as angel clearly stated this is NOT a place for debate or arguments!!! We have heard your brainwashing “facts” already. We are here because we HAVE done the research and are confident in our decisions.”

“It is just so comical for me to see these med students, pharmacists, doctors etc preach about vaccines being a good thing…. How much did they pay for their education??? I am a stay at home mom and although my over 4 years of vaccine research doesn’t mean much to professionals I feel like patting them on the heads and consoling them when i hear what they think they know!”

Aaaaaaaaaand I was shaking with anger again.  How dare these people judge me for what I think?  How dare they behave like toddlers in the throes of a tantrum, blocking my valid, educated, and considerate comments from their precious page?  And I absolutely detest being patronized.

I waited for a while, and the rage monster went away again.  But it got me thinking – what gave these people the idea that they could behave that way?  These are grown men and women who are making it oh-so-easy to blow them off as stupid.  I’ll bet some of their children have better manners.

Oh, the internet.  “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.”  Anonymity for the masses, educated and otherwise.  Because no one would ever say these things to your face (hopefully), but given the fog of war covering the virtual world… anything goes, I guess.

And that’s when I thought about doing this post.  But, I figured, I need to get the other side of the story.  After the untempered rage I’d felt for these people, I felt it’d be awfully unfair to hate on just them.  So I found some pro-vaccine FB pages.  And guess what?  There was some pretty atrocious stuff on there, too.

“Will she finally shut her ignorant trap? Probably not….but hopefully people will see the light. On the other hand, if they’re listening to Jenny McCarthy….well…there’s not a whole lot goin’ on upstairs, soooo…”

“Hey moron, learn to form a complete sentence and use elementary grammar before you spout totally ridiculous crap. You are as dumb as a brick.”

(To be fair, I had to get through several pages to find the same number of nasty comments as I found on just the one post of the anti-vax group.)

You know what the funny thing is?  The arguments on both sides are the same.  In a lot of cases, anyway.  You’ll find these on both pages:

  • We’ve been doing this (vaccinating/getting these disease) for years, there’s got to be a reason.
  • We have a duty to protect our children.
  • We’re educated and making informed decisions.
  • Why do people put their children at risk like that (vaccinating/not vaccinating)?  It’s crazy!
  • Why would anyone willingly… inject their child with aluminum? … give their child a preventable disease? … make their kids suffer? … listen to the pro/anti-vax propaganda?

Honestly, I haven’t seen the word “propaganda” used so often since the 60’s.

So here’s the moral of the story:  BE NICE.  DON’T HATE OTHERS.  DON’T BE A TROLL.

I’ve copied and pasted some of the most inflammatory comments, not to incite another war, but to try and get people to take a step back from what they’re writing.  It’s hurtful and unhelpful.  Grow up.

 – Atalanta

Image: jscreationz | FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

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11 Comments

Filed under Medicine

11 responses to “The Vax Wars – Battlefield: Interwebz

  1. Cassandra

    Hate to sound like an elitist here, but this is what happens when everyone is allowed to express their opinion… the morons amass like the condensation of mass in the formation of a new star…. And the mass of morons is just as dangerous to an outsider as the new star is…

    Sadface.

  2. Caroline

    Jessica, I’m sure you know that anyone can put anything on the internet and throw a few letters (like MD or PhD) behind their name to sound like they are “educated” and have done sound research. The reality is that there is a lot of unvalid and unreliable research on the internet related to vaccinations. Unless the the research has been peer-reviewed, and is published in peer-reviewed journals, take great caution. Peer-reviewed means that a group of experts in the same field has reviewed the work before it becomes public. This supports impartiality in the way work is published. Sound scientific studies are endorsed by groups or institutions whose purpose is to uphold science, such as professional associations and universities. Remember that every reputable health organization in Canada and worldwide, that is qualified to advise regarding immunization, supports immunization for the prevention of disease. In every case, the benefits of immunizing far outweigh the risks of reactions.

    Before you decide if a website’s information is accurate, ask yourself these questions:
    – is it clear who owns the website?
    -does the website clearly state its purpose?
    -is the information on the website based on sound scientific study?

    You will find the most ligitimate information regarding vaccinations at the following internet sites:
    http://www.who.int/immunization
    http://www.cdc.gov
    immunize.ca
    http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca
    http://www.caringforkids.cps.ca
    http://www.immunizationinfo.org
    http://www.childrensvaccine.org
    http://www.ecbt.org
    http://www.vaccinateyourbaby.org

    Good book sources:
    Your Child’s Best Shot
    Vaccines:what you should know by Louis Bell and Paul Offit

    Other sources of trusworthy information:
    Public Health offices and Public Health nurses
    Family physicians

    TAKE THE TIME TO FIND OUT THE TRUTH!!

    • While I very much dislike the word “truth,” I agree. I’ve let up on providing sources to those who are convinced – saying my sources are accurate and trustworthy, while theirs aren’t, doesn’t really help much in my experience and only makes me sound patronizing. As well, I’m trying not to focus so much on the debate itself, more on how people choose to represent themselves on the internet and otherwise.

      In other words: You’re preachin’ to the choir, Auntie Caroline. 🙂

  3. Caroline

    No, not preaching, Jessica, just providing some education, that’s all! 🙂

  4. Medical talk and random Star Wars quotes? Looks like I have another blog add to my Reader!

    This reminds me of all of the anger and vitriol in the political world which has also spilled over into another part of the medical world, Health Care Reform. I love passion and passionate people, but as you have now witnessed, it can be taken too far. The biggest lesson to learn, from my vantage point, is to not bother tilting against windmills. Instead focus on trying to convince the silent middle that is on the fence about vaccines (or health care reform or whatever issue one is passionate about). You will feel better about yourself, your patient and you will have some small victories which will help sustain you.

    • In the immortal words of Napoleon: “YESSSSSSSSSSSSS.” (Which Napoleon were you thinking of?)

      Oh, we’ve got random quotes aplenty. And yes, the undecided are the ones worth talking to, but it’s awfully hard to get the message out when you’ve been blocked and banned… which is where the troll rage is coming from.

      Unrelated comment – upon clicking your blog’s link, I was shocked to find your webpage is snowing.

      • That is true. But if you were going to be blocked, it was probably somewhere you didn’t want to be concentrating your energy anyway. But I can see why that would be painful.

        As for the snow, there is an option somewhere in WordPress that you can make it snow (kind of like “makin’ it rain” only totally different) during the holidays. I forgot I had that set up. Your vote is that the snow should live or die?

      • I live in Alberta, so generally, snow’s just a part of life. It’s a sucky part of life when it melts and forms perfect sheets of slippery DEATH. But it’s just a part of life.

  5. Great blog Jess! What an interesting experience to witness on Facebook. Perhaps we can all begin to understand what some of our youth face everyday…If this is the way grown adults are treating one another, makes you wonder how our young people treat each too. And the vaccine thing….OOh la la! Now I remember why I don’t get into these discussions with my friends anymore!!!

  6. Pingback: ”The Tipping Point”(What Kind of Little Things Can Make a Big Difference?) « ''mD'' glasses

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