Friday, 30 March 2012

Keep Calm And Carry On (or run for the hills...whichever)

It used to be said of us Brits that the one thing you could rely on us for (aside from either sounding like cockneys gawd luvva duck, plummy BBC presenters, carrying umbrellas and demanding cups of tea) was that we kept a level head.

Napoleon went so far as to describe us as "a nation of shopkeepers", dull and unimaginative in our plodding ways (although I would go so far as to argue that today we are more a nation of shop assistants)

But it seems to me that those old days of women standing in the kitchen stoically carrying on when the rest of their house has fallen down, buttering jammie dodgers for the party of people who were expected - are long gone.

I say this because today the news reports have been full of panic buying of fuel because of the distant threat of a possible petrol delivery strike.  Some pumps are already running dry, the news reporters are yelling at us every five minutes, questions need to be asked in the Houses of Parliament - how can we avoid this crisis!!!!

But hang on a second...

Is there actually a strike?  No
Has one even been agreed?  No
Has the delivery of fuel been in any way, shape or form delayed?  Absolutely not.

So why then are people rushing to the car, determined to squeeze in every last drop of petrol as if a meteor is just seconds away from squashing Barrow In Furness and they need to put a hundred miles between themselves and the EMP that must surely follow.

Back in the year 2000, when there actually WAS a strike we saw the same levels of panic buying - people fueling up their cars, their partner's cars, their kiddie's pedal cars...

Petrol stations across the nation ran dry, people had to queue and pay exorbitant prices for what little fuel there was - but here's the thing: even in that strike there was never actually any stoppage of the delivery of fuel to those pumps - the only thing that caused them to run dry was the unexpected high demand.

How responsible then, are we, for creating a crisis that does not exist?  Are these things on the rise?

Well, it's hard to know really.  Certainly perception has changed.  We allow ourselves to believe that the modern riots and problems of last summer are as a breakdown of society, a loss of care for our neighbors - but the fact remains that murder, theft and looting were never higher than in the opportunistic thefts of the blackouts of World War II.

So what has changed?  If our attitude to a crisis has been modified, or not, then what is the root cause?

Certainly one thing that HAS changed is Media coverage - the rise of mobile phones with cameras and constant media coverage leaping on any hint of news has meant that we stir ourselves into a frenzy of believing that our world is constantly in turmoil.

And the only thing I can say is - calm down dears.  If there is a strike (which seems unlikely) then I'm sure that most of you out there can wait a few days to fuel up your cars without setting fire to the neighborhood and going on the rampage.  Try public transport.  Get on a bike.  Avoid unnecessary travel

And most importantly - grow up and be sensible.


Peter Goulding said...

There's going to be a petrol delivery strike? OMG!!!!

The Bug said...

Grow up & be sensible... Hmmm. You know, I used to look at my parents' high school year books & think that they all looked so much older than 17 or 18. I think it's because they WERE more mature than we are - for all our "developing" early - we forgot to get any common sense along the way!

Stephen Hayes said...

You sound calm and reasonable. I'd want you beside me in a foxhole anytime.

Titus said...

I think it's the growth of the individual (I need to be alright Jack) and the media. And the fact that everyone has a car these days.

But most of all? The bloody politicians.

Argent said...

Makes me wonder what it is that they're drawing our attention away from with all this panic talk.

Michael said...

Why is it so easy to think selfishly and miss the obvious truth? Survival of one's own skin must be the default program of our behaviuoral coding. Can we put something in the water to rewrite our programming? Or must we wait for youth to age and gain a broader wisdom? It's difficult to accept what we are.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Peter - i hope the bunker wasn't too cold :)

Bug - maybe. I'm not convinced that over-reacting is entirely a modern malaise though

Stephen - Thanks...

Titus - yes, i have to be honest and say that when i wrote this post i didn't know that some stupid arse politician had actually TOLD people to panic buy. The only thing i would like to say to him is - RESIGN YOU IDIOT!

Argent - yes, i wonder what story they are trying to bury

Michael - i agree. Makes you wonder what would happen if there actually WAS an emergency

Friko said...

It's all over, the idiots (in government and the public) have calmed down and are counting cost) I want to fill up this morning at no great effort, just like I did before the 'crisis'.

People are stupid, the herd is an unlovely spectacle when it's on the loose.

roxy said...

In Haiti, they are having trouble with managing "rumors". fascinating how social media should make information flow easier ... but alas it still requires critical analysis! they should start teaching that in grade school!