toilet paper

Is Coronavirus Making Monsters out of People?

People need to control themselves.

The Coronavirus brought something all over the world, something that very hard to control – panic. And with fear that’s spreading everywhere, people started panic buying groceries. The sight of empty shelves is now regular, and toilet paper is nowhere to be found. With the panic buying, there has been real chaos going in the store.

If you are one of those people that are buying things that they don’t need or buying too much stuff and not leaving anything for others – why are you doing that?

Do you ever think about other people? Do you ever think about the staff from the store, and how are they feeling daily? They need to work hard every day, be kind to people, explain to everyone why there isn’t any toilet paper left, even if it’s not their fault. And they are doing that while being scared for their life because of the virus.

Almost everyone on this planet saw the photographs of a crying cashier from an Australien supermarket. It shows the negative side of everything and the reality that cashiers all over the world need to deal with.

The cashier is in tears while being comforted by a woman that was shopping there. And she was crying because another angry customer attacked her.

In Australia, where this photo came from has been an enormous shortage of products in shops and supermarkets, and people are furious because of it. And because of their anger, they are yelling and being rude to cashiers, other workers from the shops, and even other shoppers.

There has even been some physical fight between shoppers because there wasn’t enough toilet paper and disinfectants for everyone.

A lot of people are reacting after they’ve seen this sad photograph. And they are commenting that cashiers and store workers are humans and that they need to work for living in this challenging situation. Most people on social media platforms agree with that and that they need to show respect to them.

A woman shared her story on social media. She commented she went to another store in the uniform from a store where she is working.  And that a customer screamed at her because there wasn’t any toilet paper left.

Why are People Panic Buying Toilet Paper?

Panic buying has gone through the roof with the arrival of the new corona pandemic. First it was face masks and disinfectants, and now people worldwide are stockpiling toilet paper. Some countries have started to limit the quantity of items you can purchase, while some supermarkets are completely out of  toilet paper.

But why? Toilet paper isn’t protecting you from the virus, nor is it a necessity like bread or milk, but people still buy it in huge bulks. There could be many reasons.

Conflicting news causes panic and uneasiness

Steve Taylor, writer and author, says that the reason many are panicking is because the virus is new and unknown, and hearing conflicting news can be a stepping stone for extreme measures. People are told that there is a great danger, and the only way to stop it is washing their hands. It makes them feel helpless so they react with caution.

Unclear instructions from authorities

Since so many countries are taking action, closing their borders and imposing strict movement laws, people from countries which are not yet reinforcing new rules are preparing for the same conditions in their own hometowns, claims Baruch Fischhoff,  Professor at the Institute for Politics and Strategy at Carnegie Mellon University.

Panic buying is caused by panicky people

Social Media is full to the brink with pictures of empty racks and overflowing shopping carts. People look at these pictures and start to panic, which makes them go to the store to stock up as well.

“People are social beings, and we observe each other to note what is safe and what is dangerous. So, when you see a person panic buying at the store, it can cause a contagious fear effect”, says Steve Taylor.

Looking through those pictures makes people think that they must hurry up with their shopping while there’s still toilet paper in stock, which creates a never-ending cycle.

Wanting to prepare for the inevitable is natural

Whilst some governments and health institutes are instructing, or imposing that people stay indoors and avoid contact with other people, wanting to prepare for isolation is reasonable.

The new virus triggers some kind of a survival instinct in people. What are we to do when there are no more supplies left, including toilet paper? What are we supposed to replace it with? That money is going to be spent on toilet paper anyway – this is the thought process of many people.

Feeling in control of the situation

People who are stockpiling are only thinking about themselves and their families, and have no concern for health workers and the diseased, or other people in general. People mass buying face masks have caused their shortage, which means that a lot of health care workers are left exposed. In addition to the influx of patients to the already overcrowded hospitals, the loss of doctors and nurses can be catastrophic.

The reason for this kind of behavior is fear. Fischhoff claims that the preparations like buying toilet paper help people regain a sense of control in a situation which seems hopeless. It is simply a coping mechanism for many people in these hard times.