We are not lemmings.
Let me repeat that again. WE ARE NOT LEMMINGS.
I’m sure a few of my readers are looking at this and wondering what the hell what I’m talking about. Remember the myth about the small, furry creatures jumping off a cliff on mass to their deaths, following one after the other in their fear? I think you get my point.
In actuality, when one looks at the documentary that Disney made called White Wilderness in 1958 where this phenomena was documented, one finds a disturbing fact: the filmmakers herded those lemmings toward the jump off point for a dramatic effect. This has become a documented fact. Lemmings don’t usually do it on their own. In actuality, they can be great survivalists and can swim great distances for food.
Either way, the point could be made that while people are deliberately being herded toward panic by their televisions or jumping all on their own to their panic states, things are getting out of hand… and quickly.
As an author who writes dramatic fantasy and science fiction where disasters occur on the regular and dictators rise along with hidden figures who operate the world from behind the scenes, the behavior I’m seeing from people is all too real. It’s exactly as I’ve fictionalized in my novels before, based on research and overall predictive psychology. But this time, it’s no longer just happening in a book. It’s happening now before my very eyes and over much lesser circumstances than I have written about in past.
What people fail to see is that when they allow themselves to fall prey to fear is that it makes their reactions all to predictable. Thinking in fear (or in many cases right now, blatant paranoia) is a sure fire way to make sure nothing gets done. Keeping a calm head and a rational disposition makes all the difference between survival and throwing oneself off the proverbial cliff.
While I am not at all saying that being prepared is bad, I’m seeing stupid decisions being made everywhere. For example, when out in stores over the weekend to get my essentials, everything was ransacked. Aisles were empty. Frozen foods were gone. Bottled water was gone. However, most of the actual essentials were not.
Things like peanut butter and other nut butters that keep for long periods of time were left. Applesauce, which also keeps preserved for long periods, sat untouched. Meanwhile, every food that will spoil within a week or two if it is not refrigerated was gone. Eggs, milk, meats… All hoarded.
The dollar store was likewise ransacked for supplies. They were sold out of toothpaste and hand sanitizer. Meanwhile, things like essential first aid supplies, cheap bags of rice, and of all things, SOAP, were in fine supply. I mean, soap?! The first thing recommended to do is washing your hands to kill this virus! Yet no one is worrying about soap shortages, are they?
People are panic buying. Speaking as someone with specific medical needs, food allergies and whatnot, I try to plan ahead. Most all of the things I needed were still on the shelves, despite people scrounging to hoard their buys.
Why? Because I try to think ahead. If I couldn’t get my usual rice foodstuffs since I’m gluten intolerant, I’d see if had some GF oatmeal left. I had a plan (one altogether not really needed since most of the nonperishables I usually buy were still on the shelves).
For goodness sake even, most of the fresh vegetables sat untouched. And despite most people’s concerns, they spoil rather slowly depending on what you buy. An apple can last a week or two, sometimes more. Most folks will blow through a bag of Doritos in an hour. Get my point?
Hoarding items that are not sensible is not going to help anyone. Price gauging has begun in the grocery stores because of it. People who actually need face masks for their medical conditions (such as myself) are unable to get them. I had a man with COPD approached me a week ago to ask where he could get a mask like mine because he couldn’t find any.
All together, all the hype is most likely just that: hype. While there is reason for concern, panic won’t help anyone. In fact, all it does is collectively weaken your immune response which makes you more susceptible to the virus.
My suggestions for you, dear reader? A spirit of fear has descended on our country, if not the whole world, and swiftly. We must not allow it to win out or nothing will be done. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
1) PLAN RATIONALLY. Think of essential needs such as nonperishables if you must and for things such as medications. If you take medicines that will soon run out, think ahead. Toilet paper won’t save you if your heart medications run out.
2) MAKE A FAMILY PLAN. Everyone should already have one of these in case of any emergency perchance the worst occurs, no matter what. Even before this happening, you should have had one years ago. Discuss it STAT.
3) ONCE YOU HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER, CHILL OUT. If you’re at home, stop monitoring the television and internet for every ounce of rhetoric or fact that they drop. Remember that these programs have sponsors who make money off of your viewership. They profit off of your panic. Websites will get affiliate funds for serving you ads for pandemic supplies.
4) DO YOUR BEST TO SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESSES INSTEAD OF BIG BOX STORES. They will be the hardest hit out of all this. Many people forget that big companies like Walmart have huge government contracts. Your Mom and Pops stores won’t have that to keep feeding their families.
5) When you’ve finally calmed down, keep yourself entertained. There are a great deal of fantastic creators out there who could distract you from your problems. If you’re a television lover, perhaps check out some comedy to keep your spirits high.
If you’re a lover of books, there are plenty of fantastic indie authors in every genre who could use some support through this period as well. They, too, have families to feed. If you particularly miss your local library, see if they have a digital book rental service. Many libraries have Hoopla digital or the like to allow you to keep reading without the germaphobe factor.
*There are plenty of digital children’s books as well via Amazon or otherwise, so if you have a child at home away from school, perhaps reading a digital book to them might be a handy way to keep kids busy!
6) And above all else, help others who can’t help themselves. Your local elderly neighbor is probably in a lot more danger than you are, so see if you can do something to help them out during this difficult period. Maybe pick up their groceries for them if they are more inclined to be in danger from the virus and should not go out. Pray for the people in your community who are at the most risk.
This is our opportunity to show the world we are not mere animals. We care about the people in our communities and need to come together to combat the fear pervading our collective minds.
There is nothing to fear than fear itself is a common thing to remember. Just keep in mind that there are plenty of people who profit from such rampant panic. And you, my dear reader, are likely not one of them.
Thank you for listening to me and if you would please share this article, I would be most grateful. For this world, we need to shake everyone up. Rationality needs to prevail as does calm.
Much love and prayers in this difficult time,
Author Maggie Lynn Heron-Heidel
(For those who need some distraction, I’m offering a free E-Book this week as a gift for you all to keep you calm. Make sure to download it before it’s gone!)
For a more spiritual view of the virus and the response therein, here’s a very good video from a lovely man I know. Thank you, Marcus.