THE PANICKED AND THE PANIC OBSERVERS

There are three kinds of people in the world. This is of course not true at all but it’s always given me a sort of pseudo-superiority thrill to divide people into unfair categories.

I shall thus continue accordingly…

There are three kinds of people in the world. Those who want to know all things at all times (and usually obtain most information from questionable sources like anonymous voice messages warning of armageddon) because their panic-levels are at Def-Con-38, those who avoid knowing anything at any given point in time because life’s…like…rad man, and those who have developed the wisdom to know how and when to filter information in accordance with parameters such as source credibility, own mental health, and usefulness of information, and to structure their levels of panic in accordance with this information.

When China and Australia’s COVID related quarantines were imposed last year, food and toilet paper shortages dominated the news and we were inundated with images of Great-Wall-of-China-level queus at supermarkets showing desperate people clinging to trolleys. The press, the panic observers, underscored each worried person’s concerns and every empty supermarket shelf.

In my country, people responded in accordance with type. Those who tend toward nuclear level panic stocked their homes with bottled water, lentils, baked beans and enough loo paper to wipe at least four asses for all eternity.

Then you had those folks who had no idea what was going on…who had to be told by police that they need to wear masks and return home. Those whose homes had two rolls of loo paper in surplus and would need to visit a supermarket soon.

The moderates knew that some countries did indeed suffer some shortages because they were directly supplied by Chinese manufacturers. Who knew that we are supplied by other companies and would probably be okay…

I think about this today because a few days ago violent protest action errupted in a part of my country. In one specific corner of our land, things became frightening and we are all worried about the repurcussions. But as most people there have picked up brooms and started the clean-up, the international panic observers are underscoring every sad event. The panickers have every video, every news reel, every voice message and every scary image on hand. Their cars are filled with end-of-days tools, bottled water and…you guessed it…toilet paper. The under-panickers are now seeing the voilence and destruction. And the moderates…well, they seem to be busy. Busy rebuilding and working and going on with life like the never-ending mouse-wheel that it is.

Me? I very much want to be wisely informed and calm. But I still seem to veer between the three groups, often changing lanes in a single hour. I look at those who remain calm and bravely confront the fake newsers and dive in to help others and I think: I want to be you.

At this point, I’m just fighting the impulse to panic about my fast-fading wine collection and the persistent prohibition on alcohol sales…

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