On May 10 2021, rumors of an imminent gas shortage spread everywhere, followed immediately by a photograph purportedly showing a couple “stocking up” on gas to get ahead of the situation.
The image was absolutely everywhere, with at least two wildly popular Facebook posts. The same photo was shared to Reddit’s r/pics and r/trashy; the r/pics version included a popular claim that the two were photographed somewhere in Alabama:
This is a gun rack short of ‘Merica Bingo.Is There a Gas Shortage in 2021?Is There a Gas Shortage in 2021?
But I’ve got five there’s an NRA sticker on the back window of that land yacht. https://t.co/in2DLp59hK
— Darin Gantt (@daringantt) May 11, 2021
My favorite scene from Love Liza pic.twitter.com/G6ym88EycL
— Ethan Embry (@EmbryEthan) May 11, 2021
— Tracy AMH Trump (@AmhTrump) May 11, 2021
Many of the tweets compared the assumed behavior to 2020, when panicked buyers began hoarding toilet paper, leaving supermarket shelves bare despite the fact that there was no shortage:
I guess some of us didn’t learn our lesson with toilet paper during the pandemic. pic.twitter.com/46u1815jPU
— Rev. James Woodall (@iMajorWish) May 11, 2021
— SimsGirl (@BluZeta4life) May 11, 2021
#gasshortage ok yall, real talk. Right now.. we need to cut the crap and STOP HOARDING GAS! if everyone would just only fill as needed, it will stave off an actual shortage. But these people in the pictures are prime examples of what is really going to cause a shortage FASTER pic.twitter.com/YExSGSgIo4
— LeAnne Lestrange (@strangebotwin_) May 11, 2021
The discussions included observations that the couple might not be hoarding gas. A comment on a version shared to Imgur suggested that the couple might (even in May 2021 amid rumors of a looming gas shortage) be acquiring gas for farm operations or a generator:
That comment read:
If they live on farmland and have a lot of gas equipment this isn’t that odd. Although gas usually doesn’t stay good super long.
Likewise, a commenter on the r/trashy post replied:
Why is this trashy? They might live off grid and have a generator, tractor, any number of things. Just people living their life. Get a life of your own. Nothing to see here[.]
As rumors of a gas shortage spread across several states on May 10 2021, a photograph sometimes described as a “couple in Alabama stocking up on gas after the news says it could hit $3 a gallon” went viral on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Imgur, and 9Gag. Although we found no specific origin or identifying information about when or where the image was captured, people used it to make a point about the potential effects of hoarding behavior. It is possible that the photograph indeed showed a couple hoarding fuel due to fears of a gas shortage, but some commenters speculated the couple might have purchased it for farm equipment or generators. The photograph was subsequently used across platforms as an example of hoarding behavior, although we are unable to find any citations or corroborating evidence for that claim at this time.