The Trouble With Saying "Don't Panic"

I can't think of a situation where you would say those words, and people would react by not panicking.

AAA Carolinas released a statement last week about potential disruptions to gas supplies and how some stations were rationing the amount of gas customers could buy.  The release quoted David Parsons, the CEO and President of AAA Carolinas as saying, "The worst thing that could happen would be for motorists to flock to gas stations to top off their tanks. That will worsen the situation before anyone knows what the damage will be. We encourage people not to panic, drive conservatively and don't take unnecessary trips until the damage assessment is completed early next week."

Don't panic. 

Panic is just what many people did.  We quickly started hearing stories of gas prices soaring and drivers waiting in long lines to get gas on Friday.  Some gas stations started running out of regular fuel.  Even on Saturday, the only gas I could find for my car was premium.  That's when I thought to myself, "I should have filled up on Friday."

Don't panic.  I can't think of a situation where you would say those words, and people would react by not panicking.  It's the fine line of informing the public of a situation, when the mere information makes the situation worse. 

Could AAA Carolinas chosen some better words to get their message out?  Could the news media have treated the story differently?



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  • by VBush on Sep 21, 2008 at 05:29 AM
    The only way to avoid that situation is to NOT REPORT IT. Anytime you do a story that there is going to be a potential shortage of a vital commodity...THERE WILL BE PANIC. Now the panic is over, gas stations all have gas, and everyone is still in the same place they were on Friday except for the time wasted sitting in gas lines responding to the panic. Had AAA and the news agencies not released the statements, there would have been no panic and the stations would not have run out of gas on Friday. Every time there is a storm in the Gulf, there is a potential for gas supply disruption. Every time there is a storm in the Gulf it is one of the MANY reasons they find to jack the cost of gas up even before there is any actual damage done. There was no need to report this. Even at a full tank of gas, you are only going 3-400 miles and then you need more gas. If there isn't any to buy you are right where you were before you rushed to get that tank full.
  • by Stephanie Location: Chocowinity on Sep 15, 2008 at 04:08 PM
    I wonder what Mr. Parsons did on Friday when he discovered that gas went from $3.59 to $4.79 in about 3 hours. I wonder if he filled his gas tank. Personally, I didnt consider topping my tank off on Friday as panicing... I considered it common sense . I'd rather pay $3.59 per gallon instead of $4.79 a gallon

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