Rule #177: Fear of Toilet Paper
As a rule fear is good. Fear keeps us from doing stupid things that will kill us. Things like alligators and Jehovah Wintesses visits on a Saturday are normal rational things to avoid and fear helps remind us of dangers around us. Fear helps us keep alive.
I’ve told my kids that if they get a creepy feeling for an area or person they should trust their judgement and avoid the place or person. Often fear is guiding us to make good decisions and protect us from harm. Trusting my judgement has kept me alive, and I know that I avoided situations which would have likely hurt me had it not been for fear.
But fear is complicated. Sometimes it is something that should be overcome with courage. I have spoken to many people that have been in the military in situations where their lives were gravely at risk, and yet because of honor and commitment they faced the fear and moved ahead with courage. They consistently say they were afraid, because only a crazy person or idiot would not have been, but found courage to move forward. Fear becomes a heighten state of awareness, it is the caffeine that hits our blood stream when we need it. These heroes have been able to digest it and use it, it can be very powerful.
Sometimes fear is irrational. It can make us do things that are just stupid. When I lived in the Northeast it was snow storms, every time a low front was developing in the south the Mother of all storms was going to destroy us all. In the South its Hurricanes, every Low off of Cuba looks like the end of our home and lives. What causes this is that fear, like sex, sells. The more afraid you can get a viewer base the more they watch TV, the more they horde stuff and the more crazy generally people start to act.
The mantra of James Carville ” Never let a good crisis go to waste” has be come the business strategy for our 24 hr news world. And I mean everyone in it from Fox, CNN, MSNBC and even the weather channel. Hell, when we catch weathermen standing in a hole to make the flooding look worse who can we trust. No one. The world has gone crazy.
The problem of this irrational fear is that sometimes the 2 ft snow storm hits, the hurricane makes land and the virus kills people. We just don’t know if its our turn to win the unlucky lottery. In these cases odds mean nothing. Regardless of its only a 10% of getting sick, and only a 3% of dying from the sickness, we feel certain that the numbers are lining up against us and we are all going to die. Its the same curiosity of the human condition that makes us think we will win $10,000 on the next scratch off that makes us think our lives are endanger. Our minds don’t measure risk very well, and when the news stations are intentionally lying how can you make a better one?
As I look at the empty shelves in the toilet paper aisle today I realize the first step is to breath. Keep calm we are not dying today. We have time to think and decide on what to do. We don’t have to grab all the chicken off the plate, we can leave some for others and we will all live. This hording mentality takes preparation from smart planning to crazy end of the world shit.
No one is going to run out of toilet paper unless some idiots fill up their mini-vans with 800 rolls of Charmin.
Living on the water in Florida I have a back up generator, stock up on 4 or 5 cases of water and some can goods every April, knowing the storms will come. Right now with the current crisis of coronavirus-19 I have made sure we are have our cabinets stocked and are careful about hand washing and face touching. I’m not hiding in my house and stocking up on ammo, I’m being prudent and breathing. Even as a 60 yr old man with an number of underlying conditions I likely will be alive come May. I think our families 36 rolls put us a competitive edge to living through this crisis.
Making rational, thoughtful decisions and not reacting to every piece of breaking news is the only way to survive in this crazy world. 1/2 the world is telling you to panic, the other 1/2 is telling you there is nothing to worry about. No, I am not booking any cruises at the moment ( but I know I will in the future) and no I am not traveling to Northern Italy this year. But I am going about my day pretty unaffected by the panic, and will be doing business travel where necessary. We all have to assess risk ourselves, but do it based on as many facts as possible and as few anchormen.
Remember breath, think, question everything and yes 36 rolls are enough for 14 days of quarantine.