In a Crisis, You Must Overreact
I’m now “that guy” who may be having an outsized reaction. Fine then.
I’ve been through several crises.
1987: Dow crashes 22.6%. It was the first week of my first job after graduating from UCLA. A bunch of the analysts went down from the 44th floor to the trading floor on the 17th, at 1251 Avenue of the Americas—Morgan Stanley—to witness what our boss said was a “historic event.” A low-carbonated crisis, really, as I didn’t have enough to worry about losing anything. That night we went to The Tunnel (NYC club in an abandoned subway station).
AIDS Crisis: I lived in SF from 1990 to 2000. I found out I had gay friends in college only after college. My freshman roommate — gone. Fear, suffering, and tragedy everywhere.
9/11: I had just moved to New York. I saw the second plane hit and both towers go down. I remember thinking, “I’ll never see anything like this again.” Rivers of people flowed uptown from the Financial District. A shocked, muted feeling the next two weeks in the city. Felt surreal, like watching a movie, but didn’t rattle me.
The Great Recession: I had something to lose. Instinct kicked in — felt responsible for my first son, who had the poor judgment to emerge from my girlfriend in 2007. Economic stress was, well… stressful. The markets bounced back fast, a speed bump. A big one, but a speed bump.
Covid-19: This is visceral on many levels. Being contagious without having symptoms. Hospitals already facing dire supplies shortages. Tests still unavailable. Doctors getting infected in large numbers. Ventilators being scarce. Younger adults accounting for 40% of hospitalizations. This being both a health and an economic crisis. Three years of a bull market wiped out in seven days. Unemployment claims up 30%.
We haven’t been tested the same way previous generations have. Poor leadership and the ability to outsource most crises to the young (the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan) has resulted in a collection of responses vs. a collective effort. Congressmen are telling you to go to the pub while young people are in ICU. The administration keeps giving V-Day speeches that should be D-Day speeches.