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Sat, March 28

Cantlon: Not overreacting, and a little humor

You’re already overwhelmed with COVID-19 coverage, so I’ll make only one point and then find a little humor, because we could use some.

Keep in mind that overreacting makes things worse. There are lots of ways people have found to overreact, big and small. Buying up more hand sanitizer than you need means others with a higher need can’t get it. Some people have special circumstances. Maybe they care for someone very old or frail, or they’re in health care dealing with people with questionable symptoms and need to take special precautions; but, for most of us, overreacting compounds problems.

One big way we can overreact is when the recommendations to isolate lift. Any unnecessary avoiding of the normal buying and doing business just adds a new problem: more economic damage than is necessary. These are your neighbors who own local businesses or work in them, who need business to continue as much as possible within the guidelines.

Especially in the Prescott area, being somewhat isolated, we’re likely to get our worst of it late compared to big cities. Hunkering down in ways that haven’t been called for, or for too long, just means we’ll all have to do it again, doubling the negative impact.

People have been buying up all of the bottled water. Bottled water? What? They think the faucets won’t work? Apparently isolating is targeted for two weeks, and grocery stores are planning to stay operating, so if you’ve bought a lot more TP than that, why? By all means follow all of the precautions that official sources suggest, and follow local authoritative guidelines on which groups or kinds of events or kinds of business and activity should curtail, and when, which is likely to vary by circumstances, but don’t overreact. Our job as responsible members of a community is to try not to be too undercautious or overcautious, because either fails at taking care of our community and minimizing impact.

I have full confidence in our capacity to deal with this as well as can be. It is how a lot of people have reacted that worries me. Good grief, how would they react in a yet worse situation? Steady the nerves people. We all need that from one another.

A bit of humor: A silly notion that your own imagination can take further. What would Star Trek hi-tech look like now that we know it would all be paid for by advertising and prying into our data?

Those automatic sliding doors? They’d have ads projected onto them for you to see as you approach. When a crew member leaves the workout room and returns to quarters, the computer would suggest the latest soft drink, with a free sample already in the dispenser, hitting them up right when their thirst is at its peak.

That master computer that ran everything? It would be provided by Google or Microsoft and paid for by the business it can get for sponsors. When Spock asked the computer to plot a course to planet Zebulon it would say, “Sure. And if you’re willing to take a slightly longer route you could visit the resort on planet Whee that’s having a special on shore-leave packages.”

And since the computer knows all about everyone, it would play on that. “Mr. Spock, since you’re the ship brainiac shall I book you a tour of where the galaxy’s greatest 3D chess player lived?” And since the computer knows the crews’ digital diaries it would know that Lt. Checkov has been dying to ask out Lt. Uhura, and so suggest a romantic evening at the most expensive places on Whee.

Go back to any of those old science-fiction shows and imagine the many ways marketing could weave in. Kind of a challenge of the imagination, and leads to seeing their version of the future in a whole new light.

Tom Cantlon is a local business owner and writer and can be reached at comments at

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