Pro-vaxxers at loggerheads with anti-vaxxers in Tatarstan
A conflict resolution mediator from Kazan Federal University on why inflamed tensions in the discussion of vaccination in Tatarstan are going up and what to do with it
The public debate between pro-vaxxers and anti-vaxxers has always been strong enough. But it has especially worsened in Tatarstan in the last two weeks. The aggression is increasing on both sides, and social media haven’t probably seen such an escalation since the Ukrainian events. And not only social media — disagreements are taking place in workplaces, in cosy kitchens and families. Anti-vaxxers are defending their right to choose. The supporters of vaccination blame their opponents that they are guilty of the mutation of the coronavirus and numerous deaths from the infection. QR codes created a new twist of the discussion, society ultimately split into pro-vaxxers and anti-vaxxers. It has already started to be said about segregation, even the word Holocaust arises in the rhetoric at times.
“From a perspective of propaganda, the bush telegraph is more convincing”
What is happening? Why is there such a strong confrontation? There are only two camps without borderline opinions. Some are unhappy with the restriction of liberties and don’t want to see the real danger. Others accuse the first group of spreading the virus.
Theoretically, conflict resolution considers the problem as a pure information conflict. It hasn’t appeared now. It has been maturing in a latent, hidden form for years. It turned out that the conflict has two sides: society that considers or doesn’t consider information from the state and the state that gives a dose of this information. Society can interpret this information freely. As a result, there is such a form of distrust in what is served as information blocking. People, consequently, choose who they trust more — official sources, YouTube channels or Granny Manya on the bench. From a perspective of propaganda, the bush telegraph is more convincing. As a result, it turns out that it is said about the vaccine, it is the most amazing, while this causes distrust among people. How can what was done within such a short period be amazing? It is hard to persuade them that the vaccine itself isn’t quite a new product. The case is that just a new strain of the virus was placed into this vaccine. While the mechanics of action are the same. But biologists will explain this better.
But people are told this poorly enough, they simply don’t know about it. On the other hand, the population communicates, people tell each other horrible stories, while these stories are usually trusted more than good stories. It is the specifics of the times. People got used to relying only on themselves a long time ago. And they consider the information that is convenient for them. They compare the current situation with the facts they saw earlier, how they received helped or did not, how they got out of difficult situations themselves. In the end, a natural pool of distrust appears in society: “I distrust everything, even good things our state tells us through the mass media.”
This opposition comes from here. Vaccines, jabs, “to force or not to force” are all just triggers. If there were something different, they would argue on something else.
People were brought to a situation a long time ago when it is necessary to, for instance, constantly prove that you aren’t a camel, defend one’s point of view. Society is very tense
“People were put into a situation when they had no choice”
But why so abruptly? People argue even until they foam at the mouth.
The socio-economic situation is the culprit. People are exhausted simply psychologically and socially. Firstly, it was the crisis in 2008, then political clashes, people got into the security discourse, Ukraine, something else... People were brought to a situation a long time ago when it is necessary to, for instance, constantly prove that you aren’t a camel, defend one’s point of view. Society is very tense. The COVID-19 restrictions that were extended have been lasting since 2020, impacting people’s socio-economic situation, their mental health. Unfortunately, many lost their jobs during the lockdown. Agree, this can hardly be called positive stimulation.
Amid this, people were put into a situation when they had no choice. The problem isn’t that somebody is forced to be vaccinated but that now there aren’t conditions to meet the conditions. If we simply go to a polyclinic, we will see that it is not coping with the number of patients who have rushed there now. It is a simply social problem. It is impossible to vaccinate so many people at the same time, give medical exemptions and so on.
From the editorial board: the Tatarstan population had at least 9 months to get vaccinated. Queues to vaccination sites appeared only after a decree on the introduction of QR codes was published. Additional vaccination places are opening, some of them are operating 24/7.
“If this had been gradually explained and the steps that confuse people had not been made...”
But I am also a citizen, I was vaccinated, though I don’t really trust the state. Why did I do otherwise?
The main mistake that was made at the beginning of the vaccination campaign is that law should have been shown. I am afraid to be wrong, but it seems to be it appeared in 1994 reading who, what social and professional groups must be vaccinated in case of a sanitary and epidemiological threat. This law wasn’t invented yesterday, in fact, it is old enough. It clearly spells out what categories of citizens are vaccinated if a pandemic breaks out, it utters no word because they work in a potentially dangerous segment of the economy. The state should have talked about this through the mass media it controls. This wasn’t done in Russia. Then the law was remembered, but time was lost, the principle of distrust already settled down.
While those who are to be vaccinated are also in the opposition now. They wonder why they should be vaccinated. There is a simple psychological opposition: “I am forced!” If this had been gradually explained and the steps that confuse people had not been made...
From the editorial board: Realnoe Vremya published a detailed article explaining legislative norms according to which mandatory vaccination is absolutely legal. Read it here.
If we don’t want the social tension to rise, it is necessary to provide the population with information explaining the whys and the wherefores
“One shouldn’t enter into online discussions”
Is there any way of reducing tensions in society?
If we don’t want the social tension to rise, it is necessary to provide the population with information explaining the whys and the wherefores and provide all the conditions so that people can calmly be vaccinated, not create bacchanalias at polyclinics.
Many of my acquaintances argue with each other, they believe that a person can be reassured.
Everything depends on what a debate is held. I think one should not enter into online discussions. It is a virtual world, it doesn’t exist. If you want to stay healthy, don’t go online. People who drag you into discussions there absorb your emotions. You push the button, close the window, and this world doesn’t exist.
But when people argue offline, it is necessary to switch your brain on and keep in mind that culture of communication is. You have a close person who you have known for a long time in front of you. Think before letting it slip, use logic, a word spoken is past recalling. As a consequence, you will worsen the relations with the person from nothing.
We don’t have a communicative culture in society. It was destroyed, it hasn’t been built again. There is another reason, it is not even psychological. People didn’t get used to talking without conflicts.
If you want to stay healthy, don’t go online. People who drag you into discussions there absorb your emotions. You push the button, close the window, and this world doesn’t exist
“The information conflict can possible grow into a political one”
What can the existing tension lead to?
If those problems I am talking about aren’t solved, the social tension will be rising. The information conflict can possible grow into a political one. There will always be people who will provoke society. I am not talking about conspiracy theories but that it is easy to destabilise the situation at any place if one has the necessary skills.
In other words, if the state correctly spreads propaganda, open convenient vaccination points, behave consecutively, will the situation improve?
Of course. Most importantly, don’t lay down conditions that tomorrow everybody must have QR codes. It is physically impossible to do. Policy should be conducted gradually, not voluntarily at first, then volundatorily, and a bit later mandatorily. Gradually! Vaccination points opened, people started to be persuaded that it is safer to get vaccinated than being exposed to the virus. We have journalists who have been dealing with this problem — Mikhail Lyubimov, Sergey Sherstnyov. They work, show their personal example. Why not organise the work of such lads, media people whom people massively trust? Pensioners who will be smartly explained why it is necessary to get vaccinated will rush to get vaccinated. And it is necessary to work with professional PR managers.