As the entire world population goes into self-isolation and prepares to take aggressive preventive measures against the spread of COVID-19, the ability of some of our family members to underestimate a pandemic remains undeterred. Nations across the world going into lockdown, cancelling public events, and imposing travel restrictions? So what! We can't just "stop" going to the Friday vegetable market, can we? Ridiculous. *scoffs*
Well, as frustrating as it can get, it's also our responsibility to inform and educate those we consider close to us. Because, really, what's the alternative? Facebook "fact-check" pages? Look what happened when we let the anti-vaxxers continue with that.
So, the next time your dad insists that getting his customary Sunday haircut, is way more important than preventing the further spread of a global disease outbreak, try using these 5 arguments:
1. Separate Facts From Beliefs
As human beings, it's our natural tendency to cling on to reasons for optimism and turn a blind eye to the facts that make us uncomfortable. Which is where you come in. If "please don't" is no longer working on someone you care about, start providing them with real-time facts and figures. Show them a live COVID-19 dashboard such as the one by John Hopkins or the World Health Organisation and explain how (and why) the numbers keep changing every couple of minutes. That being said, don't terrify your poor parents with only negative figures, provide them with a comprehensive, factual picture of how the COVID-19 outbreak currently looks worldwide.
2. Tell Them It's Not About Them Anymore
If your uncle thinks he's too physically strong to fall in the category of those developing severe symptoms, tell him it doesn't matter! What matters is that the infection that resulted in relatively mild symptoms for your uncle, could translate to a life or death situation for someone with compromised immunity. Tell them about the possibility of being asymptomatic while infecting several others inadvertently. Emphasis on the importance of being safe rather than sorry, especially at a tricky time like this.
3. Give Them Precise Steps And Actions Instead Of A Request For Over-Night Transformation In Behaviour
Okay, picture this. You go into your living room, climb up on the table and loudly yell "Please take Coronavirus seriously" As far as you're concerned, your job is done, but your parents or others in your house, are likely not going to take Coronavirus seriously, because they don't know what taking Coronavirus seriously comprises of. Instead, give them precise steps and actionable behaviours, such as please wash your hands every 30 minutes, restrain from touching your face, or carry a sanitizer with you.
4. Help Them Rely On Technology Instead Of Fear It
Please remember that placing an online order for groceries is not as easy for your parents, as it is for you. While our generation grew up on smartphones and apps, the older members of our family still rely on traditional ways of doing things, most of which unfortunately require physical presence, like going to the vegetable market every Sunday. Try becoming their tech support, and demonstrating the convenience with which most things can now be done online. Once they realise that going out is actually not a mandate to get access to most things, they are likely to become a bit less resistant to staying at home.
5. Don't Be Afraid To Use Emotional Pressure
If somebody you care about, refuses to take COVID-19 seriously out of sheer stubbornness, despite being presented with facts, figures and medical reports, don't be afraid to use emotional persuasion. Tell them how much they matter to you, and how devastated you'd be if you lost them because of something entirely avoidable. Bring in people they usually won't say no to. Because when it's something like a COVID-19 outbreak, you just gotta do what you gotta do.
Keep at it, regardless of how annoyed they get, till they finally understand the seriousness of the current health pandemic. And remember to tightly hold on to your own precautions, while educating others. This is a "help yourself before helping others" scenario.