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What have we become?

Photo courtesy of Ben Hansen (Facebook)

Time for one of those moments where my journalist hat comes off and I get on my little soapbox.

It usually is true that humans are some of the most narcissistic creatures on the planet. We are so self-absorbed in our own lives, that we many times forget about others. However, one exception to this normalcy is when we face adversity. That’s when we usually try to be a little kinder and help our fellow man. So, what in the world is happening?

Audio: Profit Matters 3-17-20

You don’t have to go very far to see what the populace has devolved to. You can watch the news or just go to your local retail establishment to see the panic and greed that is accompanying it. More on the news and the retailers in a moment.

Yes, there is a virus out there. Yes, there are people getting sick, and some are, unfortunately, dying. I can appreciate the desire to not be infected. I think that is common sense and a point on which we can all agree. However, it is after that point where people are just getting absurd and uncaring about their fellow citizens.

We are hoarding toilet paper, for crying out loud. The New York Times recently published a story of a man from Tennessee who has a stockpile of 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer that he was selling on Amazon for inflated prices before they finally shut him down. Now it is just sitting in his garage. This isn’t the only place. People are hoarding diapers, formula, and baby wipes so they can try to make a quick buck off young parents who barely have two nickels to rub together. Shame on them.

There are also those who are stockpiling in a complete panic. The latest information we have is that self-quarantining should go for about two or three weeks and then we reevaluate. You don’t need 480 rolls of toilet paper and 12 double-packs of disinfecting wipes! I did not make that number up arbitrarily, I witnessed someone with this in their cart in Ankeny on Sunday morning. It made me sick.

Now, while I was out doing my shopping in a calm and dignified manner, I did witness one bright spot for humanity. A husband telling his wife to put something back on the store shelves. He told her that they would not normally eat that product, so there was no need for it now. He told her to leave it for someone who might need it. I am sure it was just picked up by the next panicked hoarder that walked by, but for a moment there was a semblance of sanity in aisle 3.

It’s taken a while, but a few stores are starting to get it. A friend shared a picture of a sign from a Running’s Farm and Fleet store which said, “To help ensure the availability of high-demand items for our customers, Runnings is now limiting the purchase of certain toiletries, cleaning, and disinfecting items to one per customer.”

Why has it taken so long, and why aren’t the other following suit? We already have stores with security checking our carts and at least 2 cashiers running the scanners. Start implementing the rule. Shut down the self-checkouts and start holding people accountable for their greed. TAKE ONLY WHAT YOU NEED AND LEAVE SOME FOR THE NEXT PERSON.

Now, I am not a doctor. I don’t understand the medical implications of the virus and how it spreads, and neither does Karen on your local “Facebook Moms” page. I am not going to give you anything that could be mistaken for medical advice. So, you might also want to fact check the “infographics” others are posting. My favorite ones are the ones saying we shouldn’t worry about a virus that has a survival rate of anywhere between 85 and 98% (check local listings). I think the point isn’t necessarily about the high survival rate, we are trying to prevent an 85-98% infection rate.

The ones that are really getting me to shake my head are those that are blaming this virus on the opposing political party of their choice. The conspiracy that one party is trying to get back in the White House or the other party is trying to stay in the White House is just crazy. I am sure some of you will disagree with me, and you have that right. However, I have the same right to shake my head and scoff.

There are people out there that are making hard decisions during a difficult time. I don’t care what their party affiliation is. What I care about is if they are doing their jobs. The health of the population should not be a time for partisan politics. I am not here to debate who you might think is playing politics or not, that is a discussion for another time. Those are things for you to remember as you vote in November. There are still those who are urging common sense and calm during this time while trying to do what can be done to prevent the spread of the virus. I commend them for doing their best during a difficult crisis. Coronavirus should not be a political bargaining chip.

Oops, I am in the media and I said, “Coronavirus.” That is the next thing I want to address. I actually had someone mention in a local eating establishment on Saturday night that, “they should infect everybody in the media with the coronavirus, so they have a real reason to talk about it so much. News, sports, weather, and even traffic people should all be infected”, according to this patron. Now, they had no idea I was in the media when they asked my thoughts on the matter, and boy you should have heard the verbal backtracking when I mentioned my profession.

I just want you to think about one thing. You might be aiming your backlash at some of the 24-hour news stations which you either think preach the gospel or heresy, depending on your political leanings. However, when you say “media”, you are also lumping in your local newspapers, radio stations, and television outlets. Those same people who you turn to when there are violent storms, floods, a community event. or when the local team wins the district tournament. These are the voices you have come to trust to bring you what you need. They are people too. They have families just like you. You don’t want to get sick, and neither do they. You have no problem when they run down the latest cancellations and postponements when there are eight inches of snow on the ground, quit lambasting them when they are doing it now.

Local media outlets are trying to bring you calm and factual information from the people you trust. If you were to watch a newswire right now, you would probably see that every hour we are getting new or conflicting information about this virus. These local voices you trust at other times, are still trying to keep you safe. They want you to know the latest changes so you can keep your family healthy. They are not trying to sensationalize the news. They are trying their best to sort out a chaotic situation and give you something to help put you at ease when information is flying at you from a million different directions. Cut them some slack. A good percentage of us in the media don’t have an agenda.

So, in closing. Let’s try to be a little more understanding. Let’s try to be a little more patient. Let’s try to be a whole lot smarter. Let’s make sure we are taking care of ourselves and leaving enough for others. Let’s try not to be so greedy. There is nothing wrong with being informed, cautious, and prepared. Let’s just try to do it without causing a panic.

To quote the great philosopher Red Green; “Remember, I’m pulling for you. We’re all in this together.”