The new coronavirus (COVID-19) is here in the US. There are almost two thousand confirmed cases and more than 40 deaths in the country. The government and other organizations are making an effort to increase awareness and provide preventive information to the world. But for some reason, everybody seems to be in a serious urge for toilet paper and hand sanitizers.
Why toilet paper for coronavirus?
While there is no direct relationship between toilet paper and the coronavirus, this massive “let’s-buy-all-the-toilet-paper-in-the-world” compulsive behavior has an explanation found rooted in our emotional thinking.
The women behind me at the Aldi check out #toiletpaper #coronavirusaustralia pic.twitter.com/XnenmvnQaR
— Sonia G (@SoniaCrestpac) March 3, 2020
As humans, we are wired to react in certain ways when facing life-threatening situations, fear leads us to run, scream, cry, faint, or even pee our pants. We lose control, and we do not like that. The media and the poor understanding of the situation by misinformed individuals helped to increase the sense of uncertainty and hence the fear.
Toilet paper is one of the main household essentials you never want to run out. Before it all started it was recommended to stock on some basic supplies as a preparedness measure in case of an upcoming quarantine period. Some retail stores are even limiting the quantities of toilet paper customers can buy.
An Australian newspaper has even printed eight extra pages in their latest edition as emergency toilet paper in case they run out.
3. THE DOMINO EFFECT
Pictures in social media showing empty shelves in Australia and other countries gave the impression of a serious widespread scarcity. Social media brought a lot of panic into the population, misinformation, fake news and all the conspiratorial theories around the coronavirus triggered the massive fear. Now, if at the supermarket people are buying large quantities of one specific item, others may start questioning if they are missing something, or if there’s anything special about that product and end up buying it just in case, without actually needing the item.
In other words, the irrational behavior people are showing in the stores is a self-defense mechanism that gives them the illusion of being under control by stockpiling toilet paper (and other supplies). It is natural to want to overprepare, but do not let the irrationality win the fight.
In this pandemic situation, you want others to be able to prevent and prepare as well to avoid contagion.
Prepare the smart way, do not just follow the masses:
- Wash your hands with soap
- Avoid crowded places
- If possible stay at home
- Buy only what you need
- Follow information sources of good reputation
- Check your health insurance coverage
If you are out of toilet paper consider flushable wipes, paper napkins, or just wash it with water. After all, the shortage will not last long and you’ll probably survive with what you already have at home.
By the way, did you know you can buy toilet paper at Staples and Office Depot?