What’s The Difference Between Prep and Panic?

There’s a cute story in the news today about a lady in California who lovingly tended to a potted succulent for two years.

Before she found out it was plastic.

She watered it, moved it around to pick up sunlight and dusted the leaves. All of which gave her a lot of pleasure and satisfaction. Although it never grew, the fact that the leaves stayed emerald green and spotless confirmed for her that she was a good gardener. 

She got the experience of raising a houseplant, only it wasn’t one.

I think we’re going through something like this right now with the coronavirus and our need to “prepare” or “respond”.

People who are hoarding random commodities may be repeating their “prep” for previous emergencies, like storms or “Y2K”, which were different.

But it also makes them feel like they’ve done SOMETHING, at a time when we worry that people in power may not being doing ANYTHING. Or enough. Or the right things.

Some people are buying disposable masks, which aren’t effective against COVID-19. Or full-face respirators. Experts say most consumers won’t know how to use them correctly.

Should we be stockpiling beans and bologna? Most home pantries in the US already contain the makings of at least a few days’ worth of eating. So maybe you’d want a few more days’ supply.

Should you change/cancel travel plans? We often take our cues on these decisions from public health officials who expansively close things down. They do it because it’s easier than determining whether or not such measures are necessary, and to avoid blame. I definitely wouldn’t put myself in a setting where a quarantine could suddenly trap me, like a cruise ship or enclosed resort.  Assuming you avoid outbreak areas like Iran or Italy, most of us can still travel, following the same precautions we do at home or work.

For you and me, it’s about rational preparation, not irrational panic. The best advice I’ve heard, such as fastidious hand washing and a well-stocked pantry, are just good everyday ideas. Things to do even without COVID-19.

Let’s ask ourselves if we’re not sometimes watering a plastic plant.

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