How to stop feeling anxious during a social crisis? Stop being a consumer and hoarding

Coronavirus stalled the global economy.  As many businesses in every part of the world are forced to stop their operations, many peoples are suddenly facing uncertainties about their next paycheck. But it’s not stopping them from panic-buying, or joining long lines outside Costco. Even when your income is at risk, you are overwhelmed by the sense of insecurity and you cannot stop hoarding pastas and toilet papers.   

Such behaviors are in spite of the fact that there is no prediction of shortages for food and/or other commodities. Except for masks and medical supplies that are in desperate need, even toiler paper manufacturers do not predict decreased productions. But those facts do not console you and you still need to buy. Why is that? What does the act of BUYING mean in case of social emergencies? Coronavirus actually revealed one of the blind spots of the once invincible-looking global economy.

In this super-specialized economy in which most markets are controlled by a handful of super powerful people and companies, most of us are reduced to a mere “consumer” who is only supposed to “buy” and “consume.” Consumers are excluded from super sophisticated and capital-intensive, intellectual property-protected production process, and only allowed to wait for the products that come out of the black box. Most of us have no idea how toilet papers end up in our local grocery stores, so we rush there – the only place we know – to make sure we get one. Stores are often the only points that connect us and many products, including toiler papers.  

The status of being a consumer is easy and stress-free, when the economy is good or if you make enough money. We even feel that we have power to tell produces what to produce. But your position suddenly becomes very, very vulnerable if something happens to the economy. You are literally LEFT IN THE DARK because you don’t know where the products come from, how they are made, when you can expect to see them at what price. Only thing you can do is WAIT anxiously, and when you see empty shelves at stores – the only place that connect you and products – you panic and try to buy whatever you see, even when the prices are irrationally high. The realization that you have NO control over the products/services that affect your survival is nothing but scary. But unfortunately that’s what it means to be a consumer in a social crisis. 

If we can do anything to make the current situation better, it’s definitely not hoarding. Instead, start becoming the opposite of a consumer. Start producing something, participating in production systems, and support people who are producing using their own power. It’s actually nothing new; we are all resilient and have ability to produce something – at the end of the day, everyone was a producer in some fashion before technology started doing everything for us. Many people are already making things to feel productive during their stay-at-home days, to help others who are in need in this difficult time, and to help establish local production network that are not affected by rigid supply chains, notably for food. 

We are capable of coming up something beautiful and valuable even from very limited resources during difficult times. When we collectively start producing, they become big waves to become socially meaningful even when each project is tiny. Feeling that you can produce something gives you confidence, sense of accomplishments, security, and potentially means to survive and help each other even when the economy gets worse. Hypothetically, if your local community have the capacity to produce and share/distribute enough food to feed local population, no one has to starve even when your neighborhood grocery stores are empty. Although the reality is not that simple, waiting in line at a store does not produce anything physically, but growing vegetables in your backyard is a real production. And when there is production and creation, there are solutions. You cannot expect them when there is only consumption. This difference is huge. We all need to start looking in a mirror and unleash our hidden power to produce/create that didn’t have place in our resume. We need them NOW.  

People produce and create during a social crisis 

Lots of people are baking breads, and some are doing so to help other people, including this 8 year-old girl and her grandma.

People were quick to start making masks when they knew that the supply was very short. Once they started doing it, the ideas and skills just keep coming. 3D printers are being deployed, and there is even a pizzeria owner who is “baking” PPE masks using pizza ovens. Amazing.

Coronavirus: I’m using my pizza oven to toss masks for nurses

There are no more eggs at grocery stores! People are not just panic-buying eggs, they are also rushing to buy chicks so that they can keep them in their backyard for eggs.  Although experts suggest to wait until your decision making process is no longer affected by panic, you get the point. Having chicken gives sense of security rather than seeing empty shelves. You don’t have to have chickens on your own though, there are local food production- supply chain that you can be part of.

Coronavirus has more Americans turning directly to farms for food

The spike in traffic for businesses that have been delivering to customers for years has prompted others to consider adapting their business models. – POLITICO

France Reports 200,000 ‘Agricultural Army’ Candidates

More than 200,000 people have answered France’s call for idled workers to help crop and livestock farmers desperate for extra hands as summer approaches, Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume said Tuesday. – APF News

Chicago Farmers Market Collective launches virtual market to support local farmers, supply fresh produce during COVID-19 lockdown

Independent farmers are feeling the economic impact of COVID-19, which forced a lockdown just before the season began for spring farmers markets. But the Chicago Farmers Market Collective is working to replace that income through a virtual marketplace.  – ABC News

The Local Food Revolution Goes Online — for Now

To survive uncertain times, small farms are pivoting to online orders to serve their local communities and compete with big box grocers like Amazon and Walmart – Eater

FarmDrop, an online farmers market at MDI, helps farmers sell their produce during coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic

A program by Healthy Acadia is helping out food producers in Washington and Hancock counties sell their products outdoors during the coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic. – News Center Maine

It’s not just products that need to be produced. Services and support systems that are local and personalized are also in need in social crises – and during economic recession.

Amid coronavirus outbreak, student organizes group to deliver groceries to the elderly

A pre-med student started a program and now people across the country want to help. – TODAY