Hoarding hysteria

Monica Wilkie

26 March 2020 | Ideas@TheCentre

Hoarding and panic buying in the time of COVID-19 is a misguided reaction — but a logical one in today’s world of convenience and instant satisfaction.

The images of empty supermarket shelves, toilet-paper brawls, and police-patrolling supermarkets, have left many asking: why?

There has never been an indication that COVID-19 would disrupt the local food supply or other essential items.

But, in our abundant, hyperconnected age, convenience is king.

Fast-food outlets feed you within minutes. If waiting in line is bothersome,  download an app and have food come to you.

After lunch, you remember you need a new outfit for that birthday party. No problem: the Iconic can deliver you a new dress in three hours. In the meantime,  logon to Amazon to purchase your friend’s birthday present and select next day delivery.

When party day arrives, your ride is  a few taps away thanks to Uber. If chatting with the driver fills you with dread, you can watch your favourite TV show streamed, without delay, from the US to your mobile.

If nobody’s conversation at the party takes your fancy,  simply swipe-right to find a new…friend.

On your way home, drop into a food store and not only will  they have the necessities, but that pink Himalayan rock salt for your ethically sourced, spicy tuna poke bowl.

But we are now realising convenience’s cruel fallout.

Panic buying has created a supermarket ripple. Although it was — and still is — unnecessary, when one person hoards, and then the next, the shelves are stripped. Which creates more panic.

Even though we will not experience food shortages.

The idea of ‘going without’ the luxuries of wi-fi or on-demand streaming is now foreign to many of us – much less ‘going without’ basics like food and toilet paper.

We aren’t even willing to suffer the inconvenience of going without a tan, as Australians flouted  social-distancing rules.

To maintain  convenience, we are turning our homes into warehouses. If online shopping and supermarkets are convenient, your kitchen cabinets are apparently even better.

But, if we all stopped hoarding, we could ensure that at least the supermarkets returned to normal.

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