Social and news media has lately been about nothing other than COVID-19 — the coronavirus. From every direction the assault of information, as well as misinformation, has been absolutely relentless.
As young people who are used to manoeuvring this labyrinth that is "online news", most of us are up-to-date with the very latest figures and reports on the global pandemic. However, a group of people very close to us who may not have been surrounded by COVID news, at least until very recently, are our parents.
Albeit now, what with phone dial tones carrying PSAs and news outlets persistently pushing out "viral" coronavirus content, the situation on raising awareness is improving, parents as a group of people are not known for their ability to quickly adapt to new concepts. Some people, not this writer, who wouldn't dream of doing something so audacious, but some people, would even go so far as to call them obstinate.
Parents are having a hard time adjusting to this new normal for a plethora of reasons. Some who are employed and/or self-employed are insisting on continuing to work at their offices. Some cannot fathom how their lives will run if they don't go out to buy that lau for half the price. Some are coming up to you with faux home remedies for the coronavirus that someone on your extended family Whatsapp group shared. And some are blaming all of humanity and their sins for being the cause behind this pandemic, while not taking any actual preventive measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.
If you are not an absolutely ignorant person, you are taking all possible precautions to protect yourself, since you know that even if it isn't lethal for young people with strong immune systems such as you, it may be lethal to those around you, especially your parents. However, when you tell them that you are taking precautions to ensure their safety, some parents tend to get offended. It is as if they don't realise that the age group of those deceased due to COVID-19 is much closer to their own.
So how do we deal with the adult-children during this novel coronavirus pandemic? These are some of the methods, collected from first and second-hand sources, which have been found to be of use.
KEEP THE NEWS TURNED ON 24/7
The only way to convince parents to really take COVID-19 seriously is to scare them. No matter how many online articles from the BBC or videos from Vox you show them, they are unlikely to be convinced. However, keep local news running on your TV all day and they are likely to finally start on their path to the crippling fear of doom and despair that you have reached by this point. For extra effectiveness, loudly recite the ticker constantly displaying BREAKING NEWS of live number updates from Bangladesh and around the world.
If you have a young child or sibling at home, exploit their presence to the fullest. It doesn't matter that they are the safest from the virus at the moment, since mortality rates are the lowest in their age group. The older generation are more likely to be swayed by the prospect of harming these young ones than they are to be admitting that they might be the ones in danger this time.
SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE
If it is possible, convince them by showing them information from sources that they may already trust or be biased towards. If they are politically inclined, show them videos or announcements that their chosen political leaders are putting out. If they are religiously inclined, try to find speakers who are putting out good information regarding public safety who may better fit your parents' idea of a credible source. And if they are into foreign movies, Tom Hanks' tweets or Idris Elba's brooding voice should do the trick.
At the end of the day, it is highly likely you will repeatedly face a single phenomenon multiple times over the next few days. The phenomenon of having your parents completely disregard any advice you bestow upon them, only to follow that advice a day later because they heard it from some other source they trust more than their own child. When this inevitably happens, relax, it doesn't matter how they got there as long as they did.
Keeping your cool when you are locked in with family is a difficult ask, even when they aren't being thoroughly unreasonable. However, we may have a long ride ahead of us, and the only way forward is to find a way to coexist while minimising the yelling matches to two a day.
So hold on and brace yourselves.
Rabita Saleh is a perfectionist/workaholic. Email feedback to this generally boring person at firstname.lastname@example.org