Posting Images of Empty Grocery Store Shelves Just Makes Everything Worse
Why you should think before you post
In Microprocessing, columnist Angela Lashbrook aims to improve your relationship with technology every week. Microprocessing goes deep on the little things that define your online life today to give you a better tomorrow.
The images are all over Twitter. They’re in the press. They’re on Instagram and TikTok.
The grocery store shelves are empty.
It’s tempting when you go out into the world and see something strange, to share it with the world. Whether it’s a bulldog on a skateboard or a shelf completely depleted of its resident packs of Charmin and Scott, we want to tell the people in our lives when we’ve witnessed odd things. But while there’s little to lose, and in fact much to gain, from posting images and videos of cute animals on your social media feeds, the same can’t be said for sharing photos of anxious shoppers standing before a shelf that once housed canned tomatoes and pasta and now provides sanctuary to a single bag of chewy quinoa orzo.
Tweeting a picture of your local grocer’s cleaned-out aisles might feel satisfying in the moment, but it could negatively affect your audience, stoking further anxiety, fear, and even possibly panic in certain people. And at a time when many of us are already up to our ears in stress and dread, doing what we can to reassure each other, instead of causing further distress, is a duty we should all take on.
If you post an anxious or fearful tweet depicting an empty or packed grocery store, it could lead to your followers feeling the need to go out and do their own frightened bulk-shopping. A 2007 study found that fear need not emerge from one’s own experience, but can be just as strong when gleaned from another person. If you’re expressing terror through text and images on your social media accounts, you could be spreading that fear among your followers. And if you have a large audience, your emotional footprint is even greater: A 2012 sentiment analysis…