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Preparation vs. panic Sat, Mar 28, 2020
I think there's a fine line between preparation and panic, and it's sort of hard to tell when the former becomes the latter.  Preparation is buying groceries before a snow storm, when you might not get a chance to go shopping for a few days.  Preparation is having some non-perishable foods, water, and batteries in case of a power outage.  Preparation is not leaving dirty dishes in your sink when there's a storm inbound (lesson learned the hard way). 

Preparation is planned.  Panic is reactionary.  Panic is buying a bunch of toilet paper.  Panic is buying all the meat at the supermarket.  Panic happens when you see other people buying something and think, "Wait, maybe they know something I don't.  I should buy that too before there's none left."  Panic is irrational, and in a sense, unstoppable. 

Side note:  Honestly, what's with the people buying all the toilet paper during the coronavirus quarantine?  It's not even the right thing to panic-buy.  The right thing would be fresh food, but not more than you can eat before it goes bad.  Or canned food, or beans or rice or something.  But toilet paper?  Do they plan to spend a lot of time on the toilet?  Do they realize that's not even one of the symptoms of this viral infection?  It's a perfect example of an irrational panic-buy. #psychology

Society in emergency Sat, Mar 28, 2020
One of the disconcerting things about the brief period of pre-panic before the coronavirus quarantine was how unconcerned people were about basic preparation for emergencies.  I stocked up on a few essentials -- canned food, rice, water -- not in any crazy quantity, but enough to last us a few days in case something unexpected happened.  Everybody was like, "How could something crazy happen?"  I guess I've been on the receiving end of enough power outages from minor natural disasters (snow storms, hurricanes, etc.) to know that our society is held together by a very thin thread.  Hurricane Sandy was a real eye-opener in that respect.  When a bunch of people who live in the same area lose the same service at the same time, it suddenly puts a lot of pressure on stores and businesses in the area to provide.  And they obviously can't provide at that rate.  There were a few moments of almost-desperation -- "quick, get that gas container, they're almost all gone" -- where you realize there could've been an incident.  You get one particularly angry person who hasn't eaten or slept well for a couple days, and suddenly you have a spark that can ignite a fire.  It really wouldn't take much.  Add in some restrictions about when you're allowed to be out or how much you're allowed to buy, and suddenly you've got a full-blown panic. 

As much as we like to think we live in a well-run, organized, prepared, abundant society, all it would take to run this train off the tracks is for a store to run out of something -- meat, vegetables, toilet paper -- for some things to start going down.  Desperate people do desperate things to survive, and when scarcity looks threatening, desperation grows. #sociology