What is being seen here is the decay of trust. The United States (for the most part) used to be a high trust society, meaning you would help your neighbor and trust they would help you, you trusted your job to pay you money, you trusted the bank to hold your money, you trusted your money to be worth something, you trusted the police if you needed help, you trusted the doctor if you were sick and you trusted the mechanic if your car was broken. This trust was influenced by shared ethical values and a general identification with those around you as fellows.
Now, there are a lot of factors eating away at trust, some valid some not, some deliberate some not, some avoidable frankly some not. Social media eats away at trust because studies confirmed that what most drives engagement tends to be anger, indignation and fear. Algorithms are used every day to bring more extreme content to more people. Remember clicks and views and shares make money.
“Traditional” media does the same thing for the same reasons ($$$) since fear and anger bring engagement there must always be a new fear, whether it’s valid or not.
The intense politicization of our society erodes trust because of our inherent tribal nature, someone’s espousing of views that oppose our own makes us feel attacked and simultaneously makes us discount anything else that person espouses.
Certain philosophical and political viewpoints themselves erode trust, some violently so. A two party system fosters mistrust and tribalism.
It is popular (and perhaps reasonably so) to be hyper critical of and mistrusting of ALL of our institutions now, and such criticisms and highlighted shortcomings erode trust (though it’s frequently deserved). The medical field is now getting a taste of a common refrain from the American citizens, who now no longer trust and feel qualified to naysay doctors, lawyers, teachers, cops, judges, climate scientists, researchers, lawmakers, farmers and any and every government agency. Some of this, again, is earned but usually only in the micro where the mistrust is in the macro.
Someone as old as I am has seen sharks, killer bees, murder hornets, SARS, lard, natural sugar and Ebola all be the next thing that will kill you. Ive seen plastic shopping bags be adopted wholesale because they were better for the environment than paper. Ive seen eggs go from deadly to healthy to deadly and then healthy again. Ive seen ads for cigarettes from doctors and smoking sections in restaurants. Ive seen medical recalls for hip replacement, stomach mesh, birth control, a few dozen medications and baby powder. Ive seen OxyContin prescribed by the fistful by trusted doctors for wisdom teeth removal. Hydrocodone cough syrup for a respiratory infection. Ive seen the media shill for tough on crime and the war on drugs, against tough on crime and the war on drugs, for the gulf war, against the gulf war, for the war on terror and against the war on terror, for immigration and against immigration, fear an ice age and global warming, fear sugar and fear corn syrup. I was taught the food pyramid for a balanced meal. I’ve seen news reports on incidents I had first hand knowledge of be incorrectly reported specifically to be unnecessarily inflammatory. I’ve seen the resurgence of yellow journalism and sensationalism where quiet retractions of corrupted facts often give way to no retractions at all.
For the record I got the vaccine back in February.
I said all that to say two things: one, those who express reluctance to get a vaccine simply don’t trust that the links to data are reliable. They (and please admit it, logically) see a (to them) unheard of medical technology that they know no human has had for longer than a year or so and they specifically mistrust someone who will promise them it is safe long term specifically because making that promise makes the promiser untrustworthy. Bear in mind that most people don’t fear death, they fear novel death. People eat fast food, consume massive amounts of sugar and processed food, embrace obesity, text and drive, drink alcohol, use drugs, live in Flint, Michigan, and gleefully trash the environment for convenience and money. As people grow more and more used to covid-19, fewer people will be willing to undergo any amount of inconvenience to mitigate risk.
Two: get used to it. We are in a spiral. Making us hate and fear each other is good business for media companies and it’s good politics for politicians. Outside of those deliberately corrupt but huge influences there are dozens of factors that make us trust each other less and less and less.