By SooBean Kim, March 30 2020—
If you have had the unfortunate pleasure of going grocery shopping in the past couple of days you will have witnessed panic-buying first hand. It was only when I was standing in an absurdly long line behind a lady buying 27 cartons of milk that I truly understood the concept. Panic-buying is a reaction to a crisis that plays on your fears and forces you to act irrationally. With borders and schools being shut down due to COVID-19, many people have gone into survival mode. Even those who are not buying out of fear see the need to stock up as a response to the sight of empty shelves. The question is, why should you care? Your health and safety is all that matters, right? Wrong. The main social issue with panic-buying is that it spreads a wave of paranoia. Thinking rationally goes out the window when someone takes the last couple packs of toilet paper when you don’t have any. The odds are that the next time you shop, you’ll buy more than you actually need.
Another issue with the mass consumption of goods is that when the shops are finally empty, those who did not stock up are left with nothing. Panic-buying is a luxury that not everyone can afford. Healthcare workers that have been working tirelessly for hours on end to help patients don’t always have the time to wait for hours in a line just to enter an empty store. The fear you feel when buying canned soups you will never eat has and will continue to spread to others. One thing we do not need in this time of crisis is a population marinated in fear. Although it is understandable for those preparing for their two week isolation to buy more than they typically do, clearing aisles in Costco is not the answer. Instead, try to estimate how much you need. Use toilet paper calculators, take inventory of the food you have and add only what you need. It is perfectly okay to limit your trips to the store out of fear of catching the virus. However, you should be smart about the amount of items you need when you do go.
There are multiple things you can do to try to stop yourself from going down that anxiety-filled rabbit hole. For example, try to limit what you see on social media in regards to the pandemic. Watching endless videos about the virus will only make you more nervous. This is different from researching the situation itself. To be informed is to be ready. Know what the coronavirus is and the best ways to prevent yourself from getting it. Research the meaning of social distancing and why it is necessary. Try to understand why countries are closing down borders and schools. The best thing for you to do in this situation is to be aware and educated. Do not let yourself spiral and remember that you are not the only person in the world. As a community, we need to be diligent, prepared, and understanding. The situation around the world may look severe but giving into fear is not the solution. We need to step back and stop feeding our panic.
This article is part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet’s editorial board.