The Shocking Public Reaction to Survivalists and Preppers
I guess I have been a survivalist or prepper for a long time, long before it became popular in main stream media. Back then I wasn’t aware it had a name I just figured it was common sense like changing the oil in your car. If I didn’t do it sooner or later it would come back to bite me. If asked I would give my opinion why I felt it was a sound practice, if not I kept my mouth shut. Some people get it and some people don’t, I try not to judge.
I recently launched a series of definite purpose survival kits. These kits are aimed at the casual prepper , hiker or outdoors person who may just be starting out or puts being prepared lower down on their list. I now find myself in a position of having to talk about survival to those who may be marginally interested. I’m often surprised by the reaction I get when talking about the subject.
The comments range from you should be on Doomsday Preppers to that would be great for my brother in law who hunts. When I ask if they have anything in their car that might help them hike home or spend a night in the front seat of their car, I get a blank stare. One young couple told me they weren’t my target market. I was a bit short with them and responded that they must never leave there house. Mind you this was on top of a mountain and I was giving away the product to get reviews.
I have others treat me like I’m the Jehovah witness who shows up on your door step Saturday morning. (No offense to the Jehovah witnesses, they can relate) I need to clarify, I’m about the most laid back sales person you will meet. I also get the rolling eyes treatment like I give my 19 year old son when he says something 19 year old experts say. This is by no means my first picnic doing business with the public, but the reaction to survival preparation is unexpected.
This got me to wondering why this is; I’ve got a few theories.
Part of what I come up with is the recent slew of survival type shows, while I think it’s great that these shows get people thinking of survival. I also think by the nature of these shows, people disqualify themselves based on the folks we see in these shows. The shows fall into two categories. First it’s the guy out in the wilds doing things that we mere mortals would have a hard time pulling off in circumstances we will probably not find ourselves in.
Don’t get me wrong I learn from these shows but subconsciously exclude myself from most of the scenarios. The second stars the person that the TV producers picked because of their entertainment value, maybe not for the quality or wisdom behind their preps. Again I subconsciously separate myself from these people. When the smoke clears I don’t identify too closely with either type. I just wonder if this attitude is found in the main stream population as well.
The other theory I have is as a society we expect the power always to be on, unlimited water on demand, law and order as well as reliable transportation. Anything else has become unfathomable and nowhere on peoples radar. The ugly truth is just too uncomfortable to think about.
And then there is the fact that most preppers keep a pretty low profile about their activities and are more likely to be the neighbor you see mowing his yard or washing her car. Generally we are unrecognizable from the rest of the herd and like to keep it that way. Unfortunately between the shows and the news the face of survival preparation gets twisted, often for the worst.
The last idea is that people seem to relate what we do as only applying to apocalyptic scenarios affecting large groups or regions when in reality it’s more likely you will use your preps to makes it thru a few days with no power. You don’t see people giving backpackers the same treatment even though what they do is just short term bugging out without guns. You don’t see Boy Scouts treated this way even though the skills they teach are aligned with that of the survivalist. You sure don’t hear about the military, firefighters or law enforcement in the same light.
From a personal stand point I really could care less what others think, from the big picture stand point this might not be a wise approach. The more prepped we are overall as a society, the better the outcome for all of us if and when the time comes. So when someone asks it’s up to all of us to present thoughtful relevant info to the uninformed or unconvinced. No one ever plans on having an accident but most people carry auto insurance, how is that different from prepping?
People don’t plan on getting cancer but go to the doctor to get checkups, how is this different from prepping? People know it’s smart to carry a spare tire, how is that any different. I think it’s wise to avoid trying to convince people of an impending pandemic or economic collapse etc. I say this because as soon as you bring up something they don’t agree with, the rest of your message gets written off. I often explain it as a way to have a measure of control over events you have no control over.
I find presenting survival as a hobby makes it much more palatable to the main stream. Funny a guy with a basement full of model trains is a serious hobbyist but a basement full of food and water makes you a nut? Once you present it in those terms it may help others relate. Personally I approach it that way, although I take it very seriously, I do enjoy it and isn’t that the purpose of a hobby? A hobby with potentially high stakes but a hobby none the less.