Thank you to everyone who responded about my article on working from home. If you missed it, you can read it here. One thing that shone through in your replies to my email newsletter was that there are a lot of concerned people out there. Not because of the actual Coronavirus itself. The concern is more about the indefinite nature of how long this will last. And also a wider concern about the dark underbelly of society we have seen.
Crazy isn’t it? And mystifying too. Of all the things I can think of that I should be going crazy buying right now, toilet paper is some way down the list.
Wine, champagne, rib eye steak, Lotus Exige, Pitts Special…
Everyone I speak to says that the hoarding compulsion is crazy and irresponsible. So if we are all saying that, then who are the people that were doing it? If it’s not you and it’s not me then who?
This blog post might not age well, however as I write this at the end of March / early April, my view is that there are only so many things that people can buy before the either run out of space to put it or run out of money. So hopefully, this hysteria will subside.
We should also cut the toilet roll hoarder a bit of slack. There is firm evidence that the supermarket industry’s Just In Time supply chain cannot cope with significant variations. With warehouse space an expensive commodity, most retail chains carry the bare minimum to replenish the shelves each day, relying on the haulage industry to resupply overnight.
So if you consider that suddenly, people cannot eat out at all. And the children are no longer at school. And they may well have older relatives to buy for. And they are now worried that they may not be able to shop as frequently.
Suddenly the Just In Time chain snaps.
So, I am prepared to allow the duck lipped women with joggers constantly chattering into their Apple air pods a little slack as they dash around hoovering up the shelves.
However, there is more to this than just toilet paper.
We are living in some truly remarkable times when you consider the amount of information and technology available to the majority of humans on this planet. I’ve written before about how we have the technology and the means to fix most of our problems. And yet as a species we seem to be getting worse, not better.
And yes, I know you can cite no end of great examples of human caring, human achievement and great resources of inspiration. I’ve added a few of mine a little further down here.
For the majority of people, they seem to have less interest than ever before in the things that are happening around them.
This article on Medium is about the American way of life and consumerism, however my friends on both sides of the Atlantic will identify with it. I agree 100 percent with it and I wrote a blog post on this myself, was considering publishing it. This one does a better job than I did, so I’ll simply suggest that you go click the link and take a read.
So What To Do To Come Out Of All of This a Better Person?
I am hearing genuine concern about getting to the truth, what to believe, what not to believe and how to stay sane, avoid panic and stress and generally come out of this not just in as good a shape as when we entered, but in better shape to enjoy a better future.
The fact is that there is more to this than toilet paper. The whole bog / can / dunny / (whatever you call it where ever you are) roll hysteria was driven by people simply not taking a few moments of their time to stop, actually ask themselves some simple questions and then come to an informed decision.
But the majority of people aren’t doing that. They are simply thumb scrolling down the clickbait feed of attention seeking quotes, memes and headlines. And that is becoming their truth.
If you’ve read this far and any of that makes sense, you may well be wondering where to find that information to make a more informed decision? And indeed, in this whole period of time when digital channels are our primary information method, how do we filter out the ridiculous noise and hyperbole and get to the actual facts? In fact, how do we stop ourselves going nuts?
You won’t find it on Facebook, Tik Tok or Twitter. You need to dig a little deeper, but don’t worry, it won’t take too long.
To speed you on your way, I’ve gathered together a collection of my own favourite Go To places when I need facts, need something to stretch my brain a little or simply need someone who can really see the bigger picture to give me a little reassurance.
I’ve also written a few notes on things NOT to do and to stay away from.
I hope that the following collection of useful resources helps you get some perspective on things. And also I hope that it inspires you to think a little more about the situation we are finding ourselves in right now and the way that we are all living our lives.
The Gates Foundation – For a guy who introduced an operating system that so many of us curse regularly, Bill Gates and his wife Melinda are an amazingly philanthropic and worldly couple who now spend a lot of time fighting the inequalities of the world. Take a look.
Peter Diamandis’ blog. Diamandis published regular content on the compounding rate of technological change in the world. And he does it with great positivity through his blog here. His book, Abundance, The Future is Brighter Than You Think is a breath of fresh air in a world full of mis-information and negativity.
Reuters News – My go-to place for unbiased news. I have the Reuters News app on my iPhone and right now it is the ONLY place I look for news. And even then, I limit myself to looking only once or twice a day. Reuters is the agency that sends out news data to all of the conventional news channels. So if you want to see some credible sources, before the hysteria breeding news channels put their spin on it, go there.
TED Talks. You may have heard of them, you may think that they are for science nerds. In fact, TED Talks have a huge variety of subjects, so take a look.
For an insight into how this was predicted, watch this shatteringly insightful talk by Bill Gates. If you don’t go WTF at some point in this, you’re dead from the neck up.
And if you wish to protect your sanity, here’s my list of things I’m doing
Sign out of social media. As someone who makes a living from developing social media strategies for museums, heritage and culture outlets as well as automotive in the past, that probably sounds like a strange thing to say. However right now, you don’t need to join in the hysteria and be sucked into those crazy online made up facts. Sign out for a while and then gradually introduce yourself back. And when you do, do the following:
Have a social media cull. Especially Twitter. Over the years you will probably have followed a whole variety of people and brands that are of passing interest. Sit down, be brutal, have a cull. Does this feed really reflect where I am in my life right now? Are they upbeat and positive or are they taking delight in sharing any old crap? Only keep the ones that you genuinely feel are uplifting and positive. Kill the rest.
Set up block on phrases and hashtags that you know sent you crazy. Piers Morgan springs instantly to mind. Block the phrase so that you never see that content. You may think that you’re putting your head in the sand by doing this. I prefer to think of it as a combination of de-tox and reality check.
Set aside time for Deep Work. What on earth is that? It’s the kind of inspirational stuff that stretches your brain. Read Cal Newport’s book on the subject.
If you’re on Instagram, set up your feel to bring inspiration and positivity. I wrote some time ago on how I use Instagram to be inspired, you can read it here.
Facebook? Same applies as to Twitter. And I’m possibly going to get all controversial and woo woo here, especially from someone like me who devised digital marketing and social media strategies for clients. Last year, I pretty much killed off my Facebook account and connections. I haven’t posted since November last year and I feel massively better for it. It was driven by a combination of seeing so much strange behaviour from people who I really did think knew better, added to a deep dive into the Facebook rabbit hole of analytical data gathering in the course of my digital marketing work. Once you’ve seen the power of the Facebook machine at work, you become a while load more cautious.
Switch off the TV. At first, the silence will be deafening. Whoever you’re in the room with will have an irresistible urge to break the silence. Panic will set in as you wonder what you’re going to doDon’t worry, you’ll find something. You didn’t need to watch that Friends re-run one more time.
That thing you’ve been meaning to do that you would enjoy? Now that the TV is off, leave it off and do it. Simple. Actually, it’s not simple however if you do have some itch you have always wanted to scratch, now is the time.
People have asked me in recent months about writing. ‘I wish I could write’ is a phrase I often hear. Well you can. I even wrote you an article on how to start writing to help you along. The fact that you wish to start writing is all the proof you need that you will actually be OK to do it. Read my guide to getting started if you feel that urge to write about something on this article right here.
In fact, it’s not all been bad.
I’m one of those shoppers who tends to shop each day. Generally because I simply can’t be bothered to get myself organised enough to do a ‘weekly shop’. However with the UK in lockdown, I’ve had the whole planning thing thrust upon me. And I have found it rather pleasant.
At my local stores, only a certain number of people at a time were allowed in. Everyone was standing the recommended space apart and with nothing else to do, people actually began chatting. No more faces tilted downwards and looking at iPhone screens. No more chatting out loud with a pair of of earbuds poking out, annoying everyone. Nope. We actually stood and talked.
Quite a civilised way to go shopping. I commented that it would be nice if we could make this was the new normal and take away the virus part.
There is an awful lot of good things happening in the world right now. It’s just that our human default setting is one of pessimism, driven by a media that thrives on it. There are lots of good signs that humanity has the tools to put things right and we are taking steps in the right direction.