Controlling the Prepper Image

This is another guest post by Janet M.

It’s no secret that a good number of people think of preppers as nut cases, whackos, weirdos, alarmists, pessimists, or just plain dangerous people. I learned lately that some agents of a certain governmental agency tasked with protecting the homeland view preppers as cultists. Why is that? Does it have anything to do with how preppers present themselves?

Categories of the Unprepared

It’s been reported that only about ten percent of the American population is prepared for any kind of national emergency or catastrophe. Some won’t look at the possibility of anything bad happening because they think that if they ignore it, it won’t happen. They’re just too scared to face it.

Another category of unprepared people is the group that suffers from normalcy bias. (Fill in the blank) has never happened, so it won’t happen in the future. They can’t imagine their neighborhood in flames, a collapse of the economy, buildings completely leveled by an earthquake, no electrical power, or no water coming out of the faucet.

Some think the government is going to take care of them in the event of a SHTF emergency. They can’t imagine that a critical national emergency might overwhelm emergency services, like what happened after the localized disaster of Hurricane Katrina. They don’t see that emergency workers might understandably be so concerned for their own families that they wouldn’t come help them.

Others don’t want to spend the time and money on prepping for something that might not ever happen.

Then, there are the people who think preppers are so weird that they don’t want anything to do with us. They can’t get beyond the idea that someone might think of them as just as weird as the preppers if they jump over the barrier and join the ranks of the prepared.

There are undoubtedly more categories of the unprepared, but the question remains: Why does ninety percent of the population not prepare?

What We Can Do About the Prepper Image

We preppers can’t control what people think. It would be so much better for us if more people were prepared since we’d have fewer needy people coming to us for help in an emergency or those who might try to take what we have by force. We might not be putting so much thought into how to protect what we have or whether or not we’d share stored food. The question of whether or not we’d shoot someone who tried to take our stuff wouldn’t be such a troubling and often-considered question. More prepared people would mean less stress for us.

Since we can’t control what the unprepared think, is there anything we can do that we haven’t thought of before to encourage others to prepare?

Perhaps working on changing the image of the prepper would help. Maybe if people looked at us differently, more of them would be willing to join our ranks. Most of us are driven to persuade others to prepare by our concern for them. But, maybe we could do a better job of expressing it.

But, how would we do that? The prepper community includes the survivalist who’s armed to the teeth with a 40-pound, tricked-out assault rifle and says he’ll head to the forest and blow away anyone who comes close to him. Then, we have the 80-year-old grandmother who quietly buys a few extra cans of beans when they’re on sale so she can feed her grandchildren when the ship hits the sand. There’s a wide chasm between the two, occupied by preppers of all sorts. And, “Doomsday Preppers” didn’t help the situation at all. I could never tell when watching episodes if the producers wanted people to think that the featured preppers were geniuses or if they had gone way out past where the buses run. Maybe people were supposed to draw their own conclusions, which they certainly would have done, based on their already-formed prejudices.

People form their opinions of others based on what they say and do, plus their own past experiences and attitudes. A lot of damage has already been done to the prepper image because of what many of us have said and done.

Is It Time?

Maybe it’s time for each of us think about how we’re representing the prepper image. Maybe statements like “I’m going to blow away anyone who comes onto my front porch” or “I have enough food and water to hunker down for two years, and I’m not sharing with anyone” should be eliminated from our conversations. Maybe the militant tone of voice that some of us use when talking about prepping should be softened. Maybe the sometimes aggressive speech we use on people should be replaced with silence or more carefully thought-out messages.

This is a personal issue that we all might need to consider. We all have the power to improve the prepper image among those who haven’t yet joined our ranks. Then, maybe more of them would want to join us.


This article first appeared on Ed That Matters.

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Todd Sepulveda

I'm the owner/editor of Prepper Website, a DAILY preparedness aggregator that links to the best preparedness articles on the internet. I'm also a public school administrator and a pastor. My personal blog is Ed That Matters, where I write about preparedness and from time to time, education. Connect with me on one of my social media outlets below.

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