• Andy Miller

The truth about toilet paper photos

I'm sorry it's come to this, but we need to talk about toilet paper... It's time to stop taking photos of empty supermarket shelves - we (literally) get the picture.

Because EVERYONE has been posting these shots, you're likely to see multiple empty shelves every time you log on, even if it's just for a minute. This ends up creating a strong feeling of FOMO - similar to when your friends all go overseas and post those amazing photos!! And just like your travel pics, the empty shelves are the "wow" images of the day - those that'll stand out, are exciting and show us all something completely unexpected.

The more extreme the supermarket looks, the more the wow factor gets amplified - because why would you bother simply posting a mediocre shot from Coles? Toilet paper is old news this week, we've one-upped ourselves and it's photos of the ENTIRE DEPARTMENT. Not a fresh vegetable in sight; that's gotta be posted! Even better was that one where only a single solitary pear had been left behind!! That was practically a piece of renaissance art!!


- Our brains are inundated, overwhelmed, distracted and for most of us, really disliking this new feeling of total uncertainty. Everything is chaotic at the moment and we have an unprecedented level of conflicting and confusing information to try and process that seems to change by the hour.

COVID-19 is the first global catastrophe in the social media era. Unlike previous disasters like the millennium bug or that time we had no gas all winter, we now have this magical thing called the Internet. It provides us with unlimited information, is accessible instantly and it's unlimited! As humans we're programmed to want answers - but unlike"why is there no hot water" or "why might the internet stop at midnight", we're trying to solve something that's we can't comprehend just yet - and that's where the supermarket pictures come in.

Everyone has had a crack at trying to understand what's going on.

Everyone wants to post about what they've just heard.

Everyone wants to show everyone else what they just saw.

Everyone wants to make their announcement bigger than everyone else's.


We're still going to rely on social for news and updates in the weeks to come, so rather that turning off we need to ensure we stay socially connected.

We're understanding more about the virus and how it might impact us with every day, but this means new changes from the government.

We're seeing a #kindness effect building momentum in our suburbs and there's a glimmer of hope that we're not totally fucked, but then those supermarket photos bring everything undone.


1. They are reinforcing an unrealistic image about the future.

2. They are reinforcing a worst-case scenario that our world is changing (and humans hate change).

3. They reinforce the scary images we don't want to think about in the back of our minds and blow them completely out of proportion.

4. They are the fuel to our fears.

5. They are unrelenting and extreme. There's so many of them that we stop seeing them as something unusual, but something we might have to live with forever. We can't process things anymore so we unconsciously start thinking this is the new normal.

6. They trigger uncomfortable feelings and thoughts we're not used to. This is more commonly referred to as anxiety and is not something nice. Most of you are fortunate that this is your first time experiencing anxiety. Many of you are used to managing this on a daily basis and suddenly find yourselves dealing with yet another source of anxiety that's becoming overwhelming.

7. They are posted by our'friends'. We automatically assume that since these posts are by our friends that the information contained is true and correct.

The reason Facebook uses the term "friend" over "contact" is one of the best psychological tricks ever performed. WE ARE 9 TIMES MORE LIKELY TO UNQUESTIONABLY TRUST SOMETHING IF IT'S POSTED BY OUR FRIENDS, because in the real world we trust our friends, they know us well and never lie to us. Unfortunately we bestow this Same level of unwavering belief in our Facebook friends - even if it's someone we haven't seen for 20 years or had a one-off drunken conversation with on a crazy night out.

A really boring photo of what the toilet paper section looks like 99.9% of the time

So that's why friends don't let friends post supermarket apocalypse photos on Facebook. Friends realise that we all know Coles has no poo paper and that posting about it will keep adding to the hysteria. Friends realise Woolie's had no fresh produce left - and they can get broccoli tomorrow without announcing it to the world. Friends are mindful that distressing pictures of the impending famine where everyone is covered in poo is completely unrealistic and will never eventuated.

Friends also remember that the last thing they want to do is trigger their friend's anxiety because unbeknown to them we're all putting on a brave face but we're actually shitting ourselves on the inside.

If you or someone you care about is experiencing anxiety or would like to understand more about how they can assist friends with anxiety check out: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/

COVID-19 specific info:


Beyond Blue

Head to Health

  • Imaginarium Photography & Design
  • Imaginarium Photography & Design
  • Imaginarium Photography & Design

Imaginarium is located on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation. We acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded and pay our respects to elders past, present and emerging.