Basket Cases

The power of social media: a critical care nurse makes an emotional video about empty shelves in stores. It goes coronaviral.

Major stores decided that we needed to support our NHS staff, so they introduced NHS hours for staff to shop where there are replenished shelves.

Of course, staff work shifts, so not everyone can avail themselves of this, but hey ho, it’s a thoughtful gesture.

Alas, not thoughtful enough.

Now we have hundreds of our health workers closely cloistered together in public spaces whenever the NHS hours take place. And then they’ll all be trotting back off to hospitals.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The emotion of one person in the most selfless of vocations, incredulous at the mindless selfishness of those for whom she’d not hesitate to care out of love for her fellow man. It was powerful stuff. And social media carries that message far and wide, instantaneously.

And that’s where the problems begin. You can almost sense the rationale, a form of politician’s syllogism, also known as the politician’s logic or politician’s fallacy at play: we must do something; this is something; therefore, we must do this.

It’s similar to the fabled Yes, Minister logic of all cats have four legs; my dog has four legs; therefore, my dog is a cat.

Aside from the politicking of the malevolent and incompetent, it’s the knee-jerking of the righteous that will often do the most damage.

We’ve now created gatherings of the type that the fresh closure legislation was shoe-horned in to avoid, and we’ve concentrated key health workers into them who will be returning to hospitals full of people with underlying heath conditions.

Not such a clever move, once you’ve thought it through, is it chaps?

You can add that to the creation of queues for free tea and coffee for NHS staff, and also dedicated OAP shopping windows, and we’re unintentionally unpicking our already questionable strategy with our off-the-cuff tactical interventions.

This is of course the inherent risk in a tactic. It’s a quick-fire fix supported by quick-fire thinking. That’s not to say that tactics never work, but they’re best employed when the context is known.

This is not one of those contexts and at the moment, we have the blond leading the bland.

Maybe free enrolment on home delivery schemes might have been an alternative route to explore? The root of it all though is in panic buying. You can’t trust people to act responsibly, so why not just enforce retail rationing? Hell, they do it for over-the-counter medicines as I know to my eternal headache.

Whatever steps are going to be taken, though, let’s hope they’re not going to be social media-reactive. Otherwise the real crisis – the consequences of our reaction to this – is going to get a whole lot worse.

unsplash-logoMarkus Winkler

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