How to Stay Friends With Someone Who Believes the Pandemic is a Hoax

During the fourth episode of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! chef Colin Fassnidge entered the “jungle” to join the green team, already consisting of Toni Pearen, Abbie Chatfield and Jack Vidgen

The Plate of Origin host was sent in as a replacement for fellow TV chef and friend, Pete Evans who was dropped from the series after posting a meme containing a neo-Nazi symbol to social media. 

Evans, who has been the focus of much controversy due to his anti-vaccination beliefs, claims that the COVID-19 pandemic is a hoax and his sharing of multiple conspiracy theories that seem to align with the QAnon school of thought. Oh, and he was also fined for trying to spruik an expensive lamp which he said could ward off the virus.

Addressing his friendship with Evans, Fassnidge told The Daily Telegraph’s Confidential that Evans’ had wished him well on his adventure.

“We don’t have to agree with each other’s views, that is what a friendship with someone is. But as a person, I think he is a nice guy,” Fassnidge said. “I don’t have to agree with everything to be someone’s friend. You are not going to work with a guy for 10 years and not like them.”

Chances are that you have encountered someone who has wildly different beliefs than you at some point in your life – whether at work, in your group of friends or in your very own home. Sometimes, diametrically opposed opinions on things might be fairly innocuous and even lead to some great chats and a deeper understanding about a thought process other than your own.

But sometimes they can start to cause trouble within relationships and lead to their dissolution. 

I mean, who can honestly say that when Kanye West came out in support of Donald Trump, they didn’t wonder how it affected his marriage to Democrat Kim Kardashian? (Turns out, negatively.)

With the world becoming more and more divided about race, politics, climate change and the legitimacy of COVID-19, it can be increasingly difficult to stay calm when engaging with someone who believes things you just can’t get behind. 

Here are some tips for maintaining friendships (and composure) when engaging with someone whose beliefs you don’t agree with.

Establish Boundaries 

One way to mitigate unpleasant situations could be to establish “no go” zones of conversation within friendships. If you have a mate with whom you get along famously, except for when the topic of climate change comes up, it’s logical to steer chats away from that area. Alternatively, you could agree that certain times and places are not right for these types of conversations and agree to leave them at the door. 

Ask Questions 

One of the great things about being friends with people different to us is that it offers the chance to live outside of an echo chamber. Rather than writing off your Trump-loving mate as a total moron, try to ask insightful questions about how they formulated their opinion. You may never be on board, but having a deeper understanding of why someone else is can help you to remain grounded during tricky conversations. 

Avoid Facebook Fights 

Talk in person, not on social media. It can be so tempting to add our two cents to someone’s Facebook post when they are sharing content that we vehemently disagree with but it’s seldom likely to resolve anything. Take a deep breath and don’t publicly engage in a pointless back and forth. Instead, try to have a conversation in person or, at the very least, have a private online exchange so that you are not making an example out of someone.

Keep it Classy 

Try to be as respectful as possible when engaging with someone with whom you disagree and try not to take their beliefs as a personal attack unless they are specifically about you. Remember that you dislike having someone’s values shoved down your own throat so try to not perpetuate the same behaviour when getting your point across. 

Know When to Walk Away

Sometimes, two people just cannot find mutual ground on a topic. If you find you are continuing to butt heads or are going around in circles, don’t be afraid to leave it to cool off like you would any other argument.

Ultimately, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and it’s what makes life interesting. However, just as we all should always try to hear each other out and respect each other’s beliefs, we also need to be cognisant of sharing information responsibly — especially during a health crisis. 

The health crisis is ever-evolving. If you suspect you or a family member has coronavirus you should call (not visit) your GP or ring the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

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