An amazing part of not just social media but the internet in general is how quickly any idea gains credibility.
This credibility is gained not necessarily because the idea is good or even reasonable but almost solely because it is repeated often.
A third-grader with a website, access to a camera and a You Tube account can, for example, get a lot of people to believe the earth is flat, human life is a colony for Alpha Centari or the earth revolves around the moon, nevermind that it’s flat.
Nothing proves this better than vaccine misinformation. Among the recent unfounded claims: More people go to hospitals for vaccine side effects than for coronavirus, teens are dying from vaccine reactions and that chiropractors offer the best alternatives to vaccination.
Why do such ideas gain credibility? Americans don’t want to be told what to do and will seek out evidence to support that stance.
Right now, coronavirus is in decline. The reason isn’t clear, but it continues a swing that occurs every couple of months. Many see the current decline as evidence that vaccine immunity is keeping the virus at bay. Others fear that the swings, particularly the upswings, come from people letting down their guard against infection as cases drop.
Government pronouncements on the virus and the vaccine deserve intense scrutiny. They’ve been incorrect in the past, with notable examples being use of masks and the duration of the vaccine’s effects.
By the same token, Americans shouldn’t allow themselves to be told what to do by the internet or the story that an acquaintance tells.
Part of not being told what to do, of making personal decisions, is making sound decisions based on available evidence whether the topic is vaccines or self-driving vehicles or nutrition information on cereal boxes. Use multiple sources, official and otherwise, that should have credibility.
The vaccines carry risks. They may be minimal for some, greater for others based on health conditions.
Overall, in our view, the risks are less from the vaccine than from the coronavirus. The unvaccinated have a much greater risk of hospital admission or death than those who take the jabs.
There are contrary views, easily obtained on the internet or the hair salon.
Consider them all, then make a decision that no one, including the friend-of-a-friend or that You Tube video, is making for you.
— Today’s News-Herald