Saturday, March 7, 2020

COVID-19 Preppers

Needless to say there's a lot of frustrations on social media right now regarding Coronavirus. Not about the virus itself per say--at this point, most of us have not been personally touched by COVID-19. Mainly the frustrations are coming from those who are annoyed by the "alarmists" who are "stockpiling supplies" and "spreading fear" (to pull a couple quotes from twitter). 

So I'd like to offer another, less popular perspective on the matter (or an explanation, if you will).

Most stockpilers aren't alarmists, nor are they panicking/scared of the virus. 

So why are they piling up on supplies then?

I'm not a prepper, but I do have enough food/water for about three months if there's ever a disaster, so I feel like I can weigh in on this with two main reasons:
  1. When thousands of people are suddenly stockpiling, you're often forced to do the same to ensure you have basic necessities--not for an emergency, but for next week. Take the toilet paper shortage earlier this week. Clint and I woke up to media reports that there were shortages on toilet paper. A friend/colleague of mine sent her husband to our local Costco for TP, and there was none to be found. Upon learning this, Clint immediately placed a bulk order from Amazon. Not because we were scared, or panicking, or alarmists, but because we want to be able to wipe our asses next Tuesday. Did we add to the toilet paper shortage in that moment? Yes. Do I care? Not really. Because unless I can convince thousands of people to slow their roll and quit stockpiling, I'm stuck doing the same, given that my priority is to take care of my family (and their booties). But the irony here is--it wasn't actually preppers that compounded the problem. It was the media. By advertising TP shortages to the masses, guess how people responded? By buying more toilet paper. And this is happening on social media all day long; fear mongering posts and tweets about mass-buying hysteria when in reality these posts themselves are inciting (or at least aggravating) the act.
  2. The second reason people are stockpiling is because situations like this remind people to take stock of what they have and prepare for the worst. This doesn't make them alarmists. They simply aren't sheep who assume that the government will always have their backs. For example, anytime we experience a small tremor here in California, it reminds me that I should be prepared for a larger earthquake, which may lead to me buying an extra case of bottled water that month to store in my cellar. This is not me trembling in fear that another earthquake is about to strike. It's simple awareness, and common sense. COVID-19 is now spreading its spiny fingers through the U.S. and we now have 45 active cases in my state (as of yesterday), but honestly, I don't know anyone in real life whose panicking about it. However, some of us are using this as an opportunity to take inventory. Think of COVID-19 as a yellow flag. A talking point. Are we prepared for a pandemic? Are we prepared for an economy collapse? Most of us aren't worried about these things, but COVID reminds us that we shouldn't sit around, guilelessly floating in our bubbles of ignorance, either. It's a good time to have those conversations, and to get ready for an event that might happen five years down the road, ten, twenty, now, or never. (Somewhat related: I just finished reading a book about the Yellow Fever in 1793, and you better believe the people living in Philadelphia at the time desperately wished they had considered these things.)
So keyboard warriors can keep railing out on social media about how preppers are making the situation worse, but really it accomplishes nothing. You'll never be able to talk thousands of people into not preparing to take care of themselves and their loved ones in an impending (albeit perceived) event. And frankly, you might be making the situation worse by leading others to believe that preppers are about to clean out store shelves. That incites panic--not a few folks quietly buying some emergency supplies. So either grab a few extra Top Ramens and canned veggies yourself during your next grocery store run, or get over it. Let them do them, and you do you.