Mick's post about domain names About Domains
got me thinking about our future.
There is no doubt that this major disruption will leave a mark on our cultural psyche. I think- and of course hope - that 'coronavirus' and associated names will fade from prominence.
What I expect to stay with a lot of us is the urge to buy toilet paper and keep more of a stockpile of food and supplies at hand.
I can understand why people got carried away - stocking up on bottled water, milk and toilet paper has always been the standard disaster prep advisement when getting ready for a coming hurricane, power outage, flood, blizzard. When those things were coming, the stores always experienced a run on bottled water, toilet paper, and milk.
The early information about this pandemic was confusing and the only way people could feel some control over their situation was to prep by buying those supplies. I'm not talking about the alleged profiteers that rumors say thought they would invest in toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and other personal protective supplies and sell high in a demand market. True or not, we need to move on. I'm thinking of regular people who were planning on staying home for a period of time and didn't want to run out of food or supplies.
Regardless of the initial cause of the food and supply panic, seeing stripped grocery store shelves created more panic because we all felt like we needed to stock up more food while we could. And there was a fear that maybe all those other people loading up their carts had more information than me, and there was a good reason for their actions.
The grocery store depletion happened fast. I was in Sam's Club on Thursday, and the following Monday when I went back because I forgot to buy hamburger, rice, and lettuce, the grocery and meat aisles were stripped clean, aside from a few outliers like Nestle's Chocolate Chips. Oh, of course there was a lot of stuff for sale in that store, but none of what I was looking for, and I wasn't alone in my disappointment.
And despite health department pleas to stay home and limit our shopping expeditions, many people went back to the store every day in hopes that there would finally be just one package of pasta, flour, beans, rice, potatoes, and other staples for them.
Next, the stores created designated early morning hours for senior citizens/vulnerable populations to shop. It reassured some people to think that the old folks supposedly would not get shoved out of the way by zealous 50-somethings frantic to snarf up the newly-restocked supplies. And of course the idea was that the younger people wouldn't be exposing the vulnerable ones to germs. Problem was that the majority of our small town is 60 years-old and older, so there were still crowds of desperate people, and the supplies were quickly depleted. Just because we're in an older age group doesn't mean everyone is a nice and considerate person.
When things settle down, there will be a time, perhaps for the rest of my life, when I will have to fight the urge to over-buy food and supplies. I used to think 'I'm running low on that' but I'd put off buying it because I'd be back in the store in a week or two: plenty of time. Now, whether it's canned goods or dish soap, or any number of things I consider important, I no longer will put off restocking it, so more of my money will be tied up in stuff I won't need to start using for another month. I am sure that every time I see toilet paper, even though I didn't get involved in buying it during the panic, it will be a reflex action to get a package or two. It's an irrational urge, but that doesn't mean I won't have it and give in to it.
The Where-There's-Smoke-There's-Fire theory of panic buying:
"If all those people think it is so important to buy it all up, there must be something I don't know about. Better to grab everything I can today in case it's not there tomorrow."