How do we get people to change their minds? Of course, most will change their behaviour in the face of threats and coercion, bullying and ostracism, but it’s not a good idea to regard that as job done. Whether or not you were right and they were wrong, a bigger bully with opposing views can always scare them into changing their minds right back, after all.
At present, the top target for public or at least social media battering is the person who refuses to get vaccinated against Covid. While vaccination, along with sanitation and contraception, is one of the cornerstones of a civilised society, the reluctance of some to come forward for their shots is at least understandable, and the bellowing and stamping and denunciation of these people as selfish murderers, flat-earthers and Qackaloons is dubious, to say the least. Yes, a percentage of them are tinfoil-hat-sporting wingnuts, especially if they also bought in to the idiot panics about vaccination in general, long before the pandemic. At least some vaccine hesitancy, though, is rooted in a profound distrust of authority, among people who have been repeatedly subjected to government cruelty and dishonesty. Exhortations to think of society, community and the common good tend not to go down that well with people who are used to being ignored, scapegoated, spied on or harassed by those with power – and by their neighbours.
The power of art, music and fiction to change minds shouldn’t be underestimated, but it shouldn’t be overestimated, either. Many of those who set out to send an Important Message via a story or a song end up with something that annoys more people than it converts, because they focus too much on the message and not enough on the delivery mechanism. It’s always worth having a go if you’ve got something important to say, though.
I was determined to have a go a couple of years back – whether I succeeded or failed is up to you to decide…