There are constant reminders that we live in crazy-ass times. Times where simple differences of opinion aren’t allowed and every debate has to be A Whole Thing. Times where civility has disappeared from discourse and it rapidly transitions into vitriol.
Some of you know my wife has a second job, taken to support my blogging career. Not really. Taken, truthfully, because she’s good at making decisions and would rather help to form and implement policy than be told what the new policies are going to be.
As part of her second job she’s been asked to speak with the media at various times. Which she hates. H-A-T-E-S. Four years ago she appeared in a recurring segment on a noontime news program which caused her so much stress she bailed after four attempts.
Her requests have gone up a lot in the past few months. She does her best to duck them. Often the requests go out to a small pool of similarly qualified physicians and someone else is usually willing to take them. But in the past two weeks she’s been unable to avoid two requests: one from the local paper, another from TV.
In each case the subject of discussion was kids and Covid. The newspaper request was providing a physician’s perspective on mask policies at schools. She did a ten-or-so minute call with a reporter and then it was something like four or five days before her words appeared in a story.
This week she was asked to get on a Zoom call to talk to a TV reporter for a feature about the latest vaccine news for kids. This was a little more stressful because our internet crashed about five minutes before she had to join the call. She does not do well with technology hiccups, less well when she’s already stressing about something else she dreads. Fortunately it happened here at home while I was available and I helped her scramble to join the call on time.
The call went well and a few hours later we tuned into the late local news to see the segment. It was pretty good. She critiqued herself for over-using a particular phrase, but otherwise she came across as coherent and knowledgable. When she preps for these interviews I always tell her to relax and speak to the reporter like she would speak to a parent in an exam room. But I know if I had to be on TV I would probably trip over every-other-word and totally lose my train of thought at least once. She does really well for someone who is crazy nervous about these conversations.
What does any of that have to do with the lack of civil discourse I mentioned at the beginning of this piece?
Well, I refused to find the archived story on the TV station’s website to share with family and friends because I did not want to see any negative comments from the Covid Crazies. Or open up either S’s or my Facebook pages for the Crazies to directly connect with us.
She didn’t say anything super controversial or that you haven’t probably heard in countless other mediums already. She expressed sympathy for parents who are having a hard time deciding whether or not to get their kids vaccinated. She politely shot down some myths about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. We had found an op-ed from the Washington Times written by a pediatric hospitalist about how she attempts to remain calm and empathetic to vaccine-resistant families, and I think that helped S model her statements.
But I know that didn’t matter to the Crazies, and there were likely dozens of people with no medical education or training; who haven’t sat on countless calls discussing the development, testing, and effectiveness of the vaccines; and who haven’t sent Covid positive kids to the emergency department poised to chime in with their dissenting opinions and call S’s training and motives into question.
I don’t have thick enough skin to laugh those comments off. It was easier for me to just avoid them.
Maybe I would have been pleasantly surprised. Perhaps a huge majority of comments would have been in support of S and any attacks would have either been filtered out by the station or beaten down by her supporters. It wasn’t a battle I was interested in getting into the details of, though.
So, anyway, S was on TV Monday night. If you know her name you can probably find it. If you watch, I have no interest in hearing about the mood in the comment section, good or bad.