|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