The coronavirus outbreak is dividing families, largely along generational lines, as baby boomers defy stay-at-home orders to the horror of their generation X and millennial children.
Boomers are one of the high-risk groups in the pandemic due to their age, but many of them -- especially Fox News viewers -- are largely ignoring voluntary and state-mandated strategies to avoid infection from the deadly virus, reported The Daily Beast.
“They still prefer the messages telling them it’s no big deal and it’s being exaggerated,” said Ehrin Van Marter of her Fox-watching parents. “Until someone they know is sick or dead, I don't think their perspective will change.”
The 43-year-old and her siblings have begged their parents to take the outbreak seriously, but they continue hosting weekly parties with their boomer friends and regularly visit her great-uncle.
“If we can't even agree that COVID is a public health crisis, not even that basic fact, then there is literally nowhere for the discussion to go,” Van Marter told The Daily Beast. “So basically I waste my energy talking about all the things that won’t persuade them, become demoralized, promise myself I won’t engage in this nonsense anymore, and think about how we will handle/help them when/if one of them gets sick.”
Washington, D.C., resident Danielle Misiak, a self-described "Dem millennial," said she's engaged in a "daily struggle" with her "boomer, Trumper, Fox News watching, AOC-hating parents" -- who refuse to believe dire warnings about COVID-19.
“I genuinely believe that if Fox started reporting something as ridiculous as ‘only people with naturally red hair can get coronavirus,’ my parents would believe it,” Misiak said.
Some told The Daily Beast they've withheld access to grandchildren as leverage to keep their boomer parents from shopping and visiting friends, and others said they felt hurt by their family members' resistance to social distancing.
“My parents are in the suburbs of Pennsylvania signing petitions to re-open Pennsylvania and anytime they hear about a death they ask how old the person is, to confirm their bias that it's all old people," said Emily, who asked to use only her first name. "Meanwhile, I live in Brooklyn and am dreading taking the subway ever again. I've reached a point of having to accept I'd rather them get to be smug and think they're right than be proven wrong by someone in our family getting sick.”
Liz, from Raleigh, North Carolina, still feels hurt that her Fox News-watching father -- who she says has become "almost a nihilist" about the virus -- called her warnings "hysterical."
“What I'd like him to know if he saw this and figured out it was me and called is that I’m not judging him,” Liz said. “I’m not a smug liberal or anything like that. I just really want him to be safe. My partner and I are planning on getting married and starting a family in the next couple years and I wish I could make that more distant thing seem more important than that immediate feeling of wanting to defy the government.”