-- A blog maintained by a pessimistic over-confident High-School kid.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Being driven by Trends - Social Panic Psycho - Coronavirus

Coronavirus is coming around the block and the lagged behind US had publicly announced their suspension of almost all activities.  Around 2 or 3 months ago the same thing happened to China and they got most of their schools switched to online learning and jobs are switched to online when available. Never having the experience of being within social distress, this virus shows me the extent to which a trend could be started by a piece of news outsource and if it's justified.

To my understanding, there were more than 10 thousand deaths with causes related to flu last year in the US, and that many people in China kept their suspicious of how the coronavirus originated from the US because of it. The deadly nature of flu had persisted in our social life and had rarely been focused upon, but with China drawing attention to their issue of a deadly virus, the US somehow got a delayed impact reaction to it. At first, there was a strong denial of the existence of the virus, saying that the known cases are all founded with reasons and that the threat is contained. After a month of the repeating reassurances of the same facts, people started the toilet buying frenzy based on the government advice of stocking 2 weeks worth of supplies. As laid out in this blog, toilet paper should be everyone's least worries. It's one of the cheapest necessities and the rather abundant ones. Even if the situation gets worse, the government can hand out toilet paper to each family for free without much care. And even if it goes out of stock by the very slim off chance, there are many substitutes to toilet paper that could be easily think of, regular paper would be one.

There is a tendency to follow the trend in the US. I couldn't say anything about other countries that I know of because China seizes a very dominant role in controlling people's lives. When an order for suspending all social activities have been given, people must obey. Differently, the US is all about freedom, and with all the reassuring news about the virus being contained and non-lethal, the act of ignoring became second nature to most organizations. The tipping point for people's act of ignoring was sports organizations' decision to suspend games. After the NFL, NBA and the Football Association decided to take action, there was a domino effect that forces everyone else to follow. Schools announced their starting of online classes and jobs told their employees to go off work. There is a unified feeling of not wanting to be in blame in case of accidents in the future that suddenly exists. The decision made by NBA was quite reasonable: they had one player that got the virus and had proven to be quite unexpected. But this one piece of puzzle took away everyone's safety excuse of how "others also didn't shut down". It all comes down to what you could do when you are put on the table and had to give explanations. Being the first to screw up is tolerable, but being second to screw up with warning posted is total guilt.

This all leads to the effect of how "I need to do it because everyone else is doing it". If everyone else if taking precautions, it would be exponentially bad for me to be caught with blood over my hands. If everyone is suspending their activities, I would be in big trouble if a virus spreads because of my ignorance. If everyone is buying out toilet paper, I would be caught in a sticky situation when I do need it. A line from Persepolis, illustrates the situation very straightly: "If everyone buys a sufficient amount, there will be supplies for everyone". And if everyone is buying more than they should, it forces the remainder of people to charm in for sustaining themselves. All it takes to throw the balance of buying a sufficient amount is one panic. One crazy act of one inspires others to do the same. If one person suddenly buys 5 stacks of toilet paper out of the blue, it questions the viewer to see if they should do the same. While this philosophy works very well in case of a zombie apocalypse, and everyone should do the same in that case, we should question ourselves if the situation now is a zombie apocalypse. Are we going to be locked in our houses for more than 2 weeks? From what I see, no. People are still allowing their children to roam around taking instagram pictures in social places while they are worried that they might not be able to go to the supermarket in a week.

Most of the time, everything is simple and easy in hindsight. My teacher joked about how this virus crisis will be something to be laughed about in a couple years. The sars never became anything funny in Hong Kong. But for the issue pertaining to toilet paper, prices skyrocketed to 100 bucks for 6 rolls in a day and plummeted back down to 20 in the other. During the day where toilet paper was sold for 100, I myself questioned my need for those paper. With the knowledge that it would probably return to normal in a matter of days, I was opposed to the viewpoint of what if it doesn't and it became a real concrete demand.

People are driven by media and others' actions, and while being overly-cautious is what gets us out of accidents, being too cautious will seriously affect the efficiency of any action.

For thumbnail

In trying to make a masterpiece of Kevin Durant,
I ended up with an above avg artwork according to my ability...
but nothing close to a masterpiece :(  , lol

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