The Pandemic has turned many of us into Hoarders. What is going on here, why have we responded like this?
Recently I overheard a conversation where this line dropped out … “When I finally arrived home I was not able to park my car in the garage because my wife had filled it with Loo rolls“.
This Pandemic hoarding is not just one individual, it has been happening all around the planet. Loo rolls have suddenly become the must-have item. Supermarket shelves have been stripped of them all in Australia, the UK and also the US. Rumor has it that UK Customs officers recently discovered some loo rolls being smuggled in by hiding them in a shipment of Cocaine. Well yes, that last sentence is obviously a joke, but it now works as a joke because of what is going on. If you deployed that joke several months ago nobody would get it; now we all do.
Just how frantic are the Hoarders getting?
Here are a few fun items …
- Fist fight in Australia over the last Loo Roll
- Coffee Shop accepts Loo Rolls as currency
- Store is robbed by armed gang in Hong Kong. They were specifically targeting the number one high value item – Loo Rolls.
Why are we doing this?
The answer rests firmly within our human psychology. Clinical psychologist Steven Taylor is a subject matter expert who has recently published – The Psychology of Pandemics: Preparing for the Next Global Outbreak of Infectious Disease. Now that is indeed a very timely publication that came on in Dec 2019 before everything happened.
When asked during a recent interview about us all buying toilet rolls, he explained it as follows …
Why do we succumb to these fears, even if we know on some level that they’re irrational?
We have two levels of thinking. We have our rational mind that tells us, “No, I don’t need to buy another roll of toilet paper.” But we also have a more primitive, visceral, gut reaction that says, “Well, I better be safe than sorry.” The herd instinct can also kick in, where people suspend judgement and start doing what everyone else is doing. So, if everyone else is panic-buying supplies, people follow the herd.
Why are people panic-buying and stockpiling supplies?
Everyone is being told they need to stock up for two weeks. And most people don’t do that often, so they don’t really think about what they need — which isn’t a whole lot, by the way. Inevitably, there will be someone in the crowd — maybe a few people — who are very anxious and will over-purchase. Because we’re social beings, we interpret the danger of the situation based on how other people are reacting.
With panic-buying, people feel a strong sense of urgency and a fear of scarcity. There’s almost a fear contagion effect. They think, “If they’re doing it, I better do it, too.” There are images of people with overstocked shopping carts and empty supermarket shelves going viral.
People want to find a way of staying in control of the situation. After all, government and health authorities are telling us this is a big, scary problem. Yet the government is telling us that we don’t need to do anything special like wear big masks — just wash your hands and cover your mouth when you cough. In the minds of many people, that’s not enough for them to cope, they feel like they actually need to be doing something — anything — to make themselves feel more prepared. And that could be something that’s fueling panic-buying.
He also has some sensible advice
Do you have any advice for people during the current coronavirus pandemic?
Treat this as something to be planned for and remind yourself that you’ll get through it. This problem will be over soon, or eventually. Be proactive and not reactive. What are you going to do to keep yourself occupied in your apartment for two weeks? It’s not going to be a fun experience, but what can you do to make it a little easier?
We also have to think about what we’ll do when a vaccine becomes available. Vaccination hesitancy, people reluctant to get vaccinated, is a huge problem. In 2019, the WHO listed vaccination hesitancy as one of the top 10 global health threats. Even during pandemics, people have declined vaccination — like with the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Obviously, if people refuse to get vaccinated, it’s going to make it even more difficult to bring this pandemic to an end. So, it’s really important that when a vaccine is available, people are diligent in getting vaccinated.
Loo Roll Hoarders – Bottom Line
This is what you really do need to be doing …
- Pay attention to credible news sources
- Avoid websites devoted to conspiracy theories or rumors
- Follow the guidelines of health authorities
- Have a two-week supply of food and toiletries and be prepared for the possibility of self-isolation.
- Have a plan to fend off the boredom of two weeks of isolation.
… and finally, this is what you don’t need to do …
- You don’t need to fill your garage with Loo Rolls. If you do now have an excessive supply then there might be a coffee shop that will allow you to spend it.