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'Everybody takes, and I take': why do people buy toilet paper en masse

There are most jokes and memes about toilet paper on the Internet. She is presented in the form of some kind of treasure that is very difficult to obtain, jewelry that can be given as a gift, a valuable trophy. Ksenia Turkova writes about this in her blog at "Voice of America".

Photo: Shutterstock

Next - from the first person.

Someone would tell me a year ago that my photo with the toilet paper packaging on Facebook would gain about 600 likes, I would never have believed it.

What is so special about toilet paper?

Especially this question excites those who come from the Soviet Union. They (that is, to us) understand everything: in the USSR toilet paper appeared only in the 70s, it was a terrible shortage, huge lines were defended behind it, and then proudly stringed around the neck like a bunch of bagels, and went home envy passersby.

But why does toilet paper cause the same passion among residents of the United States, Germany and Australia? In one of the Australian supermarkets, three visitors even got into a fight over the packaging of toilet paper.

And on March 14, Oregon Police even I had to turn to people asking Do not call emergency numbers to complain that they have run out of toilet paper.

The reasons why people buy toilet paper can be divided into rational and irrational.


  • they say that the best disposable masks and disinfectant wipes come out of toilet paper;
  • toilet paper does not deteriorate, it is not heavy, it is easy to grab it from the shelf and throw it into the cart - it will not be superfluous;
  • toilet paper consumption, for obvious reasons, increases dramatically if you are sitting at home in quarantine, which is why you need to stock up.

And here are the irrational reasons:

  • rumors. One of them - due to the growth in the production of disposable masks, the production of toilet paper will be reduced. However, there is no confirmation of this information anywhere;
  • everybody takes it, and I take it - what if there really isn't any later.

Anthropologist, researcher of urban myths Alexandra Arkhipova believes that the bulk purchases of toilet paper are nothing more than the consequences of an infodemic, that is, an information epidemic, when social networks and media spread information about the virus faster than it spreads.

On the subject: Scientists called unexpected symptoms of the latent form of coronavirus

“It's just a common media cognitive bias. In conditions of panic, if it is necessary to stay at home, in quarantine, not to go anywhere, people begin to stock up on everything they need, everything they need. And, of course, they buy not only paper, but also sugar, hand sanitizers, toothpaste, pasta, which are now disappearing all over Italy, ”she says.

Add fuel to the fire photos in social networks with empty shelves from under the toilet paper.

“Imagine taking a photo of an empty toothpaste shelf or empty meat crates - it's not at all as fun as taking a photo of the shelf where the toilet paper should be and writing a post about it. And then there is just the usual media effect, and it seems that people buy only toilet paper, ”she explains.

In general, do not succumb to infodemia. However, jokes, including about toilet paper, are very helpful in protecting yourself from panic.

Read also on ForumDaily:

Scientists called unexpected symptoms of the latent form of coronavirus

Epidemiologist: quarantine stretches a pandemic in time, but does not reduce the number of infected

Tens of thousands of dollars: how much will COVID-19 treatment cost Americans

Coronavirus and psychosomatics: why stress and panic make us vulnerable to infections

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