Why Toilet Paper?
by Aimee Zirker: Brightonian Staff
Over the past couple of weeks and especially over the last couple of days, the headlines have been full of news relating to COVID-19. It seems like every discussion lately has something to do with the Coronavirus. Since this disease is relatively new and unpredictable, it has caused widespread panic among the world. Stores are running out of everything and lines to check-out are insanely long. It is a mad dash to buy food and supplies and everyone is scrambling to get prepared. People want to feel ready for a global shutdown so they are stocking up on vital supplies. But there is one item that seems to be the most coveted: toilet paper. There are several videos circulating the internet of people sprinting into stores and buying a ton of toilet paper. Things have gotten so bad that stores are actually having to limit the amount of toilet paper a customer can buy.
So why toilet paper? It seems strange that people are not buying bottled water or canned goods, but apparently there is actually a psychological reason why this is happening. According to Peter Murray, a member of the American Psychological Association and the Society for Consumer Psychology, when someone feels out of control, they tend to buy several items that make them feel like they are in control. In this case, that item is toilet paper.
“There's an over-representation of fear and people's minds need to respond to those kinds of feelings. The need for self-affirmation is triggered, and that drives us to do unreasonable things like buying a year's worth of toilet paper,” said Murray. Everyone knows what to do and how to handle the flu, but since this is new, people are doing everything they can to prepare themselves for it. Buying large items like toilet paper helps people feel like at least one part of this chaotic experience is under control.
Unfortunately, buying insane amounts of toilet paper is not going to save anyone from the Coronavirus. Instead, health officials have recommended an increase in sanitation such as washing hands more often and avoiding touching the face. They also recommended social distancing which will help slow down the spread of this disease.
It will be very interesting to see what happens in the next couple of weeks. Hopefully a cure for this virus is found shortly and the world can return to normal again. But whatever happens, this pandemic is definitely going down in the history books.