Creating Myth when the SHTF

mythAs a public school administrator, one of my job responsibilities is to sit in special education IEP meetings and represent the district. Most of these meetings only last one hour. However, one year, I had more than a few IEP meetings that required an Asian translator. Now, I don’t know if you have ever noticed, but anything that is said in English, takes twice as long in ____ (I’m not sure exactly which Asian dialect I was hearing). One day, in an effort to not fall asleep, I’m responsible remember, I started focusing on the words and sounds the translator was saying. I started saying them in my head like I knew what I was saying. Later that week, on the way home from my son’s Taekwondo class, I started “talking” in Chinese (that’s what I called it). My son wasn’t listening to some advice I was giving, so it was like I was talking a foreign language to him….don’t most parents feel that way? Anyway, the “Chinese” caught on.

I continued “talking Chinese” from time to time until the Summer when we went on a family cruise out of Galveston. I don’t know why I started, but I started “talking Chinese” and everybody thought it was funny. So I kept it up. I did it EVERYWHERE! It was starting to be a second language!

One day we all headed to the pool area on the cruise ship when I realized I forgot my sunglasses in the cabin. I told everyone that I would meet them there and went back to get my shades. On the way up to the pool, I joined an Asian family in the elevator. They smiled at me as I stepped on and then continued to talk to their kids in their native language. Now, you have to remember, I had been “talking Chinese” all week like it was real. When I heard them talking in their native language, I joined in. It was automatic. I wasn’t thinking! After my fake “Chinese” left my mouth I realized what I had done.

What happened next totally amazed me. The two parents looked at each other, looked at me and then both of them bowed towards me. I was stunned! But I bowed back and smiled. I arrived at my deck before they did, so I smiled as I got off the elevator. When I met up with my family, I told them what happened, but they didn’t believe me. I kid a lot and they just believed it was another one of my jokes.

The next day, we were all eating in the casual dining room. As we sat there enjoying all the food, the Asian family from the elevator was walking passed us. As they approached and noticed me, they stopped and bowed again. I didn’t get up, but I bowed my head as I sat. As they continued on, I noticed that my family was sitting there with their mouths open! “I told you it really happened,” I said.

The story you just read is fake. But I have told it to many people, convincingly enough that they believe me. I guess I’m a good liar. Now, not all of it is fake, only the part of the cruise. But that’s probably what makes it seem true.

Being able to tell a convincing “story” might be useful in a SHTF scenario. If things break down like we read about in our favorite fictional stories or even if things just break down where crime is rampant and you and your community are your own security force, having another “layer” to get someone to think twice about walking in to your neighborhood might be a useful deterrent.

Signs, Signs and more Signs

In a SHTF scenario, there is probably not going to be a lot of medical care around. People are going to think twice about getting themselves into a situation where they could be infected with a disease that they could potentially die from. Putting up signs leading up to the entrance of a neighborhood, or even a few miles before, saying that the neighborhood/town has been infected with…let’s say, small pox, might be enough to keep some away.

Other warning signs might be useful too. How about a warning sign that says, “Warning! Stay off the main roads! Cannibals!” Or what about, “Warning, Nuclear accident ahead – Wear Safety Equipment!” Any sign could be made to meet the needs of your area. It might even be useful to have some signs pre-made.

Give Hope

Let’s say a group comes along and asks for food, water or supplies. If you prepared, they could take one look at you and know that you have what they need. They might not have the force to take what you have, but they could become a nuisance to where you would have to worry about them coming back around and maybe even stealing when you or your group weren’t looking. In this situation, you could give them enough food or water to get them away from you, at least a day or two and then feed them information that a town or sanctuary has been setup down the road. It might look something like this…

Them: Mister, we’ve been walking for days. We are hungry and thirsty and need something or we are going to die.
You: I can only spare a days worth of food and water for you.
Them: Mister, anything would be great. We are going to die if we don’t get anything.
You: Wait here and I’ll get you some food and water.
You return
You: Here you go. If you head up this road and turn right on C.R.145, you will get to the town of Lorel. I heard that they have government assistance there helping them with food, water and shelter.

Little did they know that Lorel is two days away. By the time they get there and don’t find anything, they won’t have the energy to want to turn back and bother you. It’s mean and heartless. To be honest, it would be hard for me to do. But I haven’t ever been in that situation and I don’t know exactly how I would respond.

Create Fear

The best example of this that I can think of is the movie, The Village. In it, a group lives in a big open field surrounded by deep woods. No one ever goes into the woods because monsters live there. These monsters are attracted to the color red and from time to time, they venture into the field/village. I’ll leave it there in case you haven’t seen the movie. I don’t want to spoil it.Ā  Watch the video below.Ā  Even after watching the movie, this video still gives me some chills. šŸ˜‰


Something like a “monster” roaming the woods would need to have some truth to it. There would need to be a costume made and this “monster” would really have to do some bad things, like kill livestock to a point, to make the myth believable. The myth would also have to travel beyond your borders so that people would “talk” about a monster that roams the woods or area of that community .

Practice Now

Practice telling little white lies right now. I’m not talking about telling lies that would hurt someone or cheat someone out of something. I’m just talking about telling stories that are convincing, like the one I started with. See if people believe you. If not, ask at what point they didn’t believe you. Was it because the little white lie was out of your character? Or was it because the lie was unbelievable?


To “sell” a myth or a lie, people have to believe it. This isn’t something that can be done tongue and cheek. Those that share the myth have to be convincing. But, if your life and the life of your loved ones depended on it, could you do it?
What other ways could you think of to create “myth” when the SHTF?


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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