Jul222013

29 Comments

5 Reasons why normal people shy away from the prepper world

This article was originally sent to my newsletter subscribers only, but I’ve received so much positive feedback that I decided to share it on my blog as well.

bunker

Doesn’t everyone have their own underground bunker?
image by audiovisualjunkie.com

I don’t believe I’ve ever started an article with an apology, but before I go any further, my apologies to preppers for this headline! I’ve met hundreds of you over the past year or so and you are all so normal!

I hope my apology is accepted! Now on to my story.

Last week I recorded an episode of my show and included 6 lessons kids should learn from the Trayvon Martin case.  Lesson #6 was, “Be aware of how others perceive you,” and it included some great quotes from a black minister who works with kids of all races.

As I thought about perception, I remembered a conversation with an Oregon woman who displayed a dramatic negative reaction to the term, “bug out bag.”

“Don’t use that term!” she said. “It makes you sound like a crazy survivalist.”

Well, I’m not crazy and I don’t consider myself to be a survivalist in the traditional sense, but if we hope to draw others into the ranks of preparedness, our loved ones in particular, then maybe we should consider how others perceive us.

Here are a few reasons why I think “normal” people shy away from anything related to the prepper world.

1.  Our terminology has negative connotations.

“Bug out bag” begs the question, “Exactly why do you think you have to bug out? Are you on the lam?”

“Bug out location” sounds a lot like a robber’s hideout or the stereotypical 500 square foot log cabin in the wilds of Idaho, home to toothless refugees from “Deliverance”.

“Bug out vehicle” — getaway car, anyone?

“C-Day” — Collapse Day, as in the day the United States of America collapses.

See what I mean? And I don’t think it’s a strike against anyone outside the prepper world who hears these terms and thinks, “What the heck??” If you’re not a religious person, this is akin to being around people who talk church-speak all the time. It can be a big turn-off.

2.  Ditto for our acronyms. 

  • SHTF: Sh*t hits the fan.
  • TEOTWAWKI; The end of the world as we know it.
  • WROL: Without rule of law.
  • GOOD: Get out of Dodge

In the real world, who talks like this?? If your friends need an acronym dictionary to figure out what you’re talking about, they may decide the prepper world is some sort of secret society with “special” handshakes and creepy initiation ceremonies.

3.   They think we’re too negative. 

When conversations naturally veer toward topics related to preparedness, that’s one thing, but if your stream of emails consist of doomsday alerts from Alex Jones and the like, they will begin to steer clear of you, guaranteed.

4.    Negative portrayals on TV.

Let’s face it. “Doomsday Preppers” didn’t exactly do any favors for the prepping world. Too many of their preppers aren’t relate-able. Many are downright weird. If this is what your circle of friends and acquaintances see as the norm for preppers, do you blame them for not wanting to join the club?

5.   Preppers scare them.

Nearly every prepper website focuses on topics like pandemics, collapse of civilization, the U.S. becoming just like Somalia, FEMA body bags, guillotines…well, sometimes people just want to think about the fun they’re going to have this weekend at the bowling alley. Who wants to be around people who scare them all the time?

5.   They really don’t see the need to prepare.

This one you can’t do anything about. Until a person is motivated by their own observations, they will likely not do anything. People believe their own data and will act accordingly, thus the popularity of Home Depot hours before the arrival of a hurricane!

 

Now, in no way am I saying preppers are crazy and that we shouldn’t prepare. My point is to consider how others perceive us. If we come across as scary, obsessed, or weird, then it’s no wonder that they shy away from the prepper world when it’s possible that being prepared has been on their minds!

You can’t do anything about Doomsday Preppers or all the fear-filled websites out there, but you can demonstrate by words and actions what a rational, completely sane prepper looks like!

 

There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

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I'm the original Survival Mom, and have been helping moms worry less and enjoy their homes and families more for 5 years. Come join me on my journey to becoming more prepared to handle everyday emergencies and worst case scenarios.

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(29) Readers Comments

  1. Great article! I agree that perception is very important. At my children’s school, it amazes me how many parents actually count on me to have whatever it is they forgot ( extra clothing, snacks, markers, first aid supplies, water, etc) to the point where I am the go- to person and it is well known throughout the school ( they don’t know I’m actually a prepper). Forgot snacks for t- ball? No problem, Linda has energy bars in her SUV. Splinter on the playground? Go see Linda, she’ll have it out in no time ( cleaned and bandaged). Restaurant ran out of crayons for a class trip after the movies? Linda’s got scented markers for everyone in the car!
    As far as terminology, we refer to our BoB as a 72 hour kit and never use acronyms. When conversations head toward preparedness, the peace , joy and sense of security preparing gives us is the first and foremost thing we discuss…people are drawn to asking great questions. No need to scare people. When people ( very close friends and family, that is) ask what crazy scenario we are preparing for….I wink and say ” anything”.
    Everyone chuckles in reference to Doomsday Preppers on Nat Geo, but I have to tell you that I have taken several pages of notes based on the shows. If you look past the sensationalized quirkiness geared for TV, there is a lot of valuable information in each segment.
    The last point you made about people not seeing the need to prepare is true but I feel it’s slowly changing as we’ve recently seen some serious weather related emergencies, unemployment worsens, etc. Rather than argue with them that they need to prepare, I choose to lead by example as mentioned above, and draw them to the light ( of peace and sense of security) like a moth to a flame!

  2. Thank you so much for this. I have been at the brink of prepping and have actually been prepping singlehandedly for a few years now. But I have not been able to bring my husband on board very far because he is totally turned off by the websites and information he’s seen and conversations he’s heard. He is a true optimist and he finds many of the popular prepping sites to be distastefully alarmist. I honestly think he would make a wonderful prepper, if he could get past the negativity that seems to accompany the general prepping population. We’re working on it. But I’m realizing in order for my whole household to embrace prepping we’re going to have to call it something completely different with a more positive connotation. LOL Any ideas?

  3. It is nice that I have grown up to prepare for future hardships–even if it is just a job loss. I knew a family in my church who had a year supply of food and when the husband was on strike for his job (thus getting very little, if any money) and she is a stay-at-home mom, they relied on their food supply in order to feed their family since they had very little extra money to buy groceries since they still had to pay their regular bills, including mortgage, utilities, etc. I always try to buy extra canned and dried goods to add to my own food storage and I buy extra things when they go on sale. I can safely say that my family have a year supply of toilet paper and shampoo/conditioner (and a lot of soap), so at least we will be clean too. Ha! Ha! I just wish that more people would stop thinking that we are just doomsday people. They should really relate it to the children’s story of the ant and the grasshopper and how the grasshopper suffered because he wasn’t prepared.

  4. Some people actually like the acronyms, thinking it makes them sound more official, mysterious, in the know. It puts them in a group and leaves others out. As for the doom and gloom, the sensationalism draws attention to them. Then, if these people are a little odd, the people who listen to them just try to separate themselves. I think the people who sound extreme are not doing their cause any good even if they sincerely think they are. These type people think they are sane and everyone else is aberrant. I wonder if they really want to change.

  5. I try to teach for local or regional disasters. We have snow storms (not everyone knows how to drive in the snow), winds storms (downed trees and power lines), freezing rain (you aren’t driving anywhere, wheres your supplies), volcano’s (which way is the wind blowing), earthquakes (know where your gas and water shut offs are). I take them one step at a time from EDC’s to 72 hour kits to BOL’s. Nothing crazy there.

  6. We have started a movement called Rerooting USA and it is based on many of the same ideas in prepping without the negative connotations. There are also some social elements to the plan as well. If you are looking to engage neighbors or friends please check out our set up at http://www.rerootusa.com. It is brand new but we are making some waves. Great article.

  7. Good point- but only if you give a rat’s ass about what other people think about you. As the superintendent of a 70 unit apartment complex, I know a lot more about my tenants than I want to. (Some of them have lived in this country for twenty years, and haven’t learned how to speak English yet- they are so dumb, that they would have trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time!
    We had a hydro failure here, ( about a week ago), that lasted for 5 or 6 hours). I loaned out a half dozen flashlights, but on the proviso that if I don’t get them back- they are not available next time. (They all came back).
    Every one of these people knows about my preps- but only one other family here are preppers themselves. The rest: forgetabout it!
    You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink! (And in the event of a collapse- I gotta get out of here, (and I know who I am taking with me).
    My own fang damley thinks I wear a tinfoil hat- I don’t care, (I got enough preps for them- too!)
    (As to the rest of them: Yer on your own, Bubby!)

  8. Tara-
    Does your husband have life insurance? (so he’s “prepping ” for when he dies)
    Auto insurance in case of an accident?
    Homeowner’s Insurance in case of a fire?
    A 401k or savings account?
    Does he have a spare tire in his car?

    Well then, he’s already a prepper and he doesn’t even know it
    How about you call prepping “living insurance” ( prepping for when anything or everything else around you fails like the economy, natural disasters or him simply being out of a job).

  9. I think you missed a big one: If they agree that prepping is reasonable, they’d have to actually do it. It’s easier to just call it crazy!

  10. Linda I get the same reaction! Recently started with a new company, and still in training. I have been assigned to this location about 4 weeks now. Word gets out fast! Almost every day someone is asking for something, because they learned I usually have it. From tools, band aids, hair bands, deodorant, electrical tape,….. the list goes on. The weird old lady will have it.

  11. Good article but, IMHO, incomplete. The biggest reason I’ve encountered by friends, family, and “just regular folks” I run into, is that we preppers as a whole are WAY too political, particularly where slamming specific elected officials is concerned. These folks indicate that is the major reason they think of us as paranoid bat-stuff crazy nut jobs. And they use this reason for not becoming “one of us” even more than anything related to gun issues. Just my opinion, but we really need to tone it WAY down if we are to truly “love thy neighbor” as we have been commanded. Then we can perhaps help them as we really should.

  12. I completely agree with all of this. The biggest reason I shy away from prepping, preppers, and especially prepping websites/blogs/message boards/etc., is that in my experience, they invariably turn into antigovernment rants. It can be very discouraging.

  13. I couldn’t aree more and even when you try to use logic they don’t see the need–An example is one of my friends from childhood in Michigan is a serious snowmobiler and when talkin about eneral safety I found out that they didn’t even carry basic first aid kits let alone flashlights, survival blankets, fire starters, etc should they brake down on a remote trail. They thought I was nuts because I travel with a day bag and my truck contains stuff for an extended brakedown or intrupted traffic flow. They had a cow when we were without electricty for several hours while we on a lakeside vaction a week ago but yet, they don’t understand that we need to be self sufficient for a week or more during huricane season since I now live in the south. Bottom line your points are valid and for sure the programs on tv haven’t helped the cause at all.

  14. Totally agree with Tom and Nicholas. I find that many of the sites come very close to suggesting domestic terrorism. Then there’s the religious intolerance, the nasty comments about liberals, gay marriage, Muslims, intellectuals,etc. I pretty much only read this site now.

  15. I have a hard time with the “Prepper” thing as my grand parent on both side were preppers. Almost if not all my great aunts and uncles and my aunts and uncles have gardens and can the produce. Who doesn’t have a chain in their car/truck????

    Just hicks from the sticks with a rainy day fund. (Hick- Highly Intelligent Country Kind) The skills I learned growing up can support me, building trades, maintenance, gardening, operating equipment.

    You hear the media talk about it and you look at it and it appears totally different. You do what you can with what you have. Try to make the world a little nicer while you are here and remember that no one gets out of this life alive. (there is that negativity creeping in again) ;)

    The vast majority of human history life has been Much more difficult than if has been in the last 70 years or so. Our memories are short.

    Night

  16. I think my biggest aversion to joining the prep-squad, is the appearance of hostility and disdain towards others. The examples of preppers I’ve seen appear to invest a lot into weapons and defensive strategies against even their neighbors. Some seem to be itching to shoot anyone who comes on their property. I’ve kids and I think, in an emergency, I’d be afraid to live next door to a prepper. That being said, I actually enjoy preparing for emergencies and being self-sufficient/sustainable, I just don’t employ an “us vs them” mentality. Also agree with others about the anti-gov, politically aggressive appear to be a preoperative stereotype. Perhaps community prepping and outreach workshops would improve the reputation?

  17. A few weeks ago my dog was injured by coyotes. He was defending his own fenced yard. He was defending our children, our smaller dog, our cats, our chickens, our expensive rare wool sheep, etc. He was a great hero, and did his job even though it risked his very life. As it turned out, my son shot and killed two of the invaders to save him. He would have fought to the death.

    I took him to the vet and it cost nearly eight hundred dollars to fix him all up. Nearly good as new. As I spoke with the vet staff about the incident a woman in the waiting room with a poodle mix became all weepy for the sake of the coyotes. She was appalled that I wasn’t “pro-enviroment” (on the coyote’s side). She was appalled that I had a gun. She told the Doctor she was afraid to be in his office, knowing some of his clientele might have guns. She was even affronted that I had first aid supplies for a dog, which I had used before transporting my animal to the vet.

    Some people will never become “preppers” just because they aren’t in touch with reality. Their world is lighted, cooled, heated, paved and safe, and that’s all there is to it. A tree root cracking their flawlessly smooth sidewalk is a horrible disaster. Waiting in line for four minutes to get a latte’ is unforgivable sin. Hurricane Sandy is a “story”, not reality. Coyotes eating their precious poodle is only a nightmare.

  18. I hate to say it, but we don’t speak to much about prepping, except for my parents and our children.
    I think we need to re-think who all we are telling, because when and if an emergency arises, guess
    who is going to be coming after all that you have worked so hard for? Everybody and their brother.
    I think I’ve mentioned being prepared for emergencies to a couple friends, but just to plant the seed in their heads. I want them to think about the basic essentials, I don’t know what they have or don’t have. They don’t have any idea what we have. It seems a little wierd, being secretive, but isn’t that why we are doing this, to keep our families safe? We don’t really want everybody to know what our stockpile looks like. Or for our family to come up in everybody’s gossip topics. We just started about a year ago, really figuring out what we should have and what our plan should include. We don’t have enough food and water yet, but we know how to hunt and fish and garden. I’ve been saving seeds and looking up info on how to keep them. It’s alot of work, educating yourself about all the primitive ways that are nearly a lost art. We don’t really have the space to have barrels and barrels of water or an entire basement of goods. I think in a true emergency, we may not be able to stay at our home. Thus, all the supplies would be a waste, because we wouldn’t be able to take them all with us if we had to leave. We are Christians and we believe that the Lord will provide. But, I think He wants us to have wisdom and knowledge. We just need to use our heads and layout a plan to include how we would all get back together, should we be separated in a catastrophic event, where will we go if our home is destroyed, and getting a binder together of all of our important documents. I have lagged on this, because I don’t know the answers to all of these questions yet. It’s hard to know for sure what escape routes would be available and the like. I think we all need to invest in TOPO maps of the whole area, and a good compass, so if we are on foot, we can find our way. We can’t rely on the GPS systems or cell phones in an emergency. We need a plan. Blessings to you all for sharing and caring about the rest of us. Thanks.

  19. Sandy RE: seeds. The very best way to store them long term is to grow them out at least every few years and save seeds again. Check out Suzanne Ashworth’s book Seed to Seed for directions. The best conditions to store seeds is can be summed up as cool and dry. In good storage conditions, most seeds will last from three to five years. The exceptions are parsnips and members of the onion family. Those have to be planted every year. They simply lose germination quickly regardless of conditions. It is possible to keep seeds for about ten years by freezing, but you have to be very careful of the moisture levels in the seeds. Too dry and you killed them. too moist and the ice crystals kill them. I work for a call center at a heirloom seeds place and have to know this stuff.
    As for the politics, I am probably on the opposite end of the political spectrum from most preppers and nearlu all survivalists. So what? I take wisdom where I find it.

  20. Nicholas and Tom – I agree with you 110%. I “prepped” in the Rockies mostly for fear of tornadoes, wildfires and blizzards. Now on the Gulf Coast – I “prep” mostly for hurricanes. I figure if Obama turns out to be a zombie Muslim, institutes Sharia law and releases smallpox – I’ll probably be prepared for that too. ;)

    I stock water, food, medical supplies, ammo, etc and have extensive plans and training but I do not participate in the “prepping community” mostly because of the radical political/religious beliefs. I also have a hard time wrapping my head around the argument that one should spend inordinate amounts of money and time prepping. Granted, people probably find it as entertaining a hobby as say – fishing, but I will never spend massive amounts of time/money “prepping.” I haven’t spent a cent on my hurricane go-bag. It’s all supplies that were given to me, or that I originally purchased for hunting/camping/hiking. It has everything from suture supplies to canned food from the food bank, from when were very poor.

    I’d rather just live my life. When it comes down to it I’d rather take $5 and spend it on some bait and go fishing today, rather than another few days of nonperishable food. I do take many more precautions than most, but it’s all in balance.

  21. Sandy, In a nutshell my plan is to keep the food factories (farms) going. Most will not be ready to deal with an EMP. Your offer: you can draw water with a capped 2 inch PVC pipe and an inner tube one way valve (5 gallons/day/horse), grow food (vegetable seeds by the pound are cheap) and have tools (a scythe could be worth its weight in gold). Would the livestock owner want your team or cut 60 acres of wheat with a butcher knife? Think: what would a cattle, hog or chicken farmer need for the next 5 years if the power went out? They have grain and meat already. You will be guided to each other.

  22. Thanks for the article and comments. Not sure I would be considered a prepper. More of the type that wants to be as self-sufficient as I can be. To be in the woods as far as I can be, as I have an aversion to humanity. LOL. I look at all the prepper, back to the land groups and sites I can. Sadly in almost everyone, the attacks on gays, Libs, etc is hard to get through when ya just wanna learn about vertical gardening, as an example. Us gay Libs also know something could happen to make us need to bug out or rely on what we can grow, hunt or raise.

  23. The bottom line is people view preppers negatively because preppers reflect those people’s own complete and utter lack of preparedness back on them and they don’t like it. Consequently they stick their heads in the sand and ridicule anyone who is prepared. This perfectly describes 99% of the zombies wandering around desperately searching for food water and fuel after Katrina, Sandy and numerous other natural disasters. Personally I have no desire to appeal to or be seen as acceptable by them. When the SHTF, just what I need is a bunch of completely unprepared people wanting to mooch off my preps with nothing of any real value to offer in return. No thanks, let them stay ignorant and reap the rewards of that ignorance.

  24. “October 16, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    Thanks for the article and comments. Not sure I would be considered a prepper. More of the type that wants to be as self-sufficient as I can be. To be in the woods as far as I can be, as I have an aversion to humanity. LOL. I look at all the prepper, back to the land groups and sites I can. Sadly in almost everyone, the attacks on gays, Libs, etc is hard to get through when ya just wanna learn about vertical gardening, as an example. Us gay Libs also know something could happen to make us need to bug out or rely on what we can grow, hunt or raise.

    I don’t have any problem with gays but the bottom line is contemporary liberalism is nothing but the incessant (and hopeless) pursuit of the utopian nanny state at the expense of individual liberty and self sufficiency. Liberal ideology is about as diametrically opposed to prepping and self reliance as one can get and there’s really no way around it.

  25. Lots of good points here…. The prepper community does not seem to be a very welcoming community at all, the message boards are filled with radical right wingers, and the fringe seems to be featured on TV shows like Doomsday Preppers, but think about it….. The more people who are prepared, the more people you help to be prepared, the less people you will have to fight off when the SHTF….

  26. As stated by another poster “distastefully alarmist” is what turns me off to it. I think I’d learn a lot more about prepping if the sites weren’t so god awful. I see the practicality in being a prepper. However, there is this elitist brother/sisterhood that seems to permeate the community. And heaven forbid, I question the end of the world or odd conspiracy theories. Where are the “normal” preppers? The ones who prep because, yeah, something could happen at some point, but they’re not scouring political/weather/extremist websites looking for the worst news to put in their prepper spank bank. Those are the people I want to be learning from. Most websites I gather what knowledge I can, but mostly I just lay low. Sorry, to be so abrasive, but it really grinds my gears.

  27. What i find fascinating about preppers, at least from what I know about them on the tv show. is how more than a few of them are morbidly obese, and while they will spend countless hours and money preparing for the remote possibility of extending their lives a few more years, they are oblivious to the stroke or heart attack that will kill them first.

    • Carl, this is one of the reasons my site promotes healthy living and eating. It’s part of being prepared, but one that is overlooked and/or ignored.

  28. We recently had a severe flood and my neighborhood was dislocated from society for 2 weeks. I saw normal people who own Porsches, Bmws etc have million dollar homes etc.. go insane, pacing up and down the neighborhood, after just 3 days without electricity , refrigerated food gone bad, water running out. It was pretty scary watching lawyers turn zombie in 3 days. That is all it takes for normal people to become so frightened its scary to behold, in 3 days they run out of stuff. People when they become afraid are scary. After 3 days those who weren’t prepared were so dazed I told them to start walking towards town there would be help at the bottom of the mountain they started walking to town about 6-7 hours away on foot, in true zombie fashion over the roughest terrain. I was prepared it was like a vacation. I was afraid to offer help because they roved in packs and they had this air of desperation , like they would take everything from you or they couldn’t get enough (one woman who had kids wanted me to stretch a cable from my propane generator 1000 ft to her house- a propane generator gives you about a years electricity hooked up to a 1000 gallon tank- she kept insisting she had kids so she was more important) a madness of fear gripped them in mass fashion -people who days before were stock brokers, bankers, CEO’s On top of the world type people etc… Those who are unprepared congeal together into packs roving up and down the street and have a most terrifying air of despair. I found the best way to safety was to offer sound advice getting them out of my immediate area and diverting them away from the neighborhood toward possible authorities.

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