Breaking the Prepper Stereotype
What is a Prepper?
A person who gathers materials and makes plans in preparation for surviving a major disaster, catastrophe or cataclysm.
So basically, a Prepper is a person who is prepared for emergencies; but somehow there is a stigma attached to the word Prepper that skews Americas perception of this person.
I think the word Prepper gets connected in people's minds with Doomsday Preppers or those who preach the Apocalypse is coming. Well, there are different levels of Preppers and there are many that are preparing for Armagedón, but the vast majority of people who focus on being prepared are average citizens who are wise enough to understand that we live within a fragile system with many different dangers. Personally, I am only a level 2 Prepper and do not have a bunker, and if I am being completely honest, I am not sure I want to be one of the remaining few after an Apocalypse. I am simply a suburbanite family man looking to protect his family in the case of disaster or emergency.
Perhaps it is the "Doomsday Preppers" show on National Geographic that molds the perception. I sure hope not, that is Television people. It's like basing your opinion of New Yorkers on the MTV show "The Real World". The producers of the show are looking for the most extreme participants to create drama for the show. The show constantly references the end of the world, and this is an extreme example of what to be prepared for. Perhaps it is challenging for the general public to imagine spending that much energy on what if scenarios. A good example of survivalism on television is "Alone" on the History channel which illustrates actual survival in a real-world scenario while reinforcing how important it is to be prepared.
Recently I was watching "The Last of Us" on HBO Max which is about living in a post-apocalyptic world. In episode 3 the main character meets an individual who was clearly prepared for a situation of this nature. and he is asked "Are you one of these Preppers or something?" to which he replies, "I am a survivalist!" with a somewhat annoyed tone. I believe the message of this scene was to illustrate that even withing the prepared community, the word Prepper has gained some negative connotation.
January 6th Capital Riot
After the riot at the capital on January 6th, 2021, there was another shift in perception. People began attaching the word Prepper with the individuals that stormed the capital. While it may be true that the individuals involved with the attack are the type of people who are more prepared, it does not mean that those who prepare are looking to disrupt the democratic process. In fact, most people who prepare are looking to preserve the American way of life.
Another perception of preppers is that they wear tin foil hats and live in conspiracy rabbit holes. Once again, people are using the extremists to define the general population. Take a look at our Disasters page, our Dangers pages or the News page. You will find that there are many threats to our way of life that you do not need to be a conspiracy theorist to understand.
Social Media Corporations
After January 6th, the executives of social media companies engaged with politics and started to control the flow of information. While they're directives were based on smothering misinformation, they began playing a dangerous game of dictating information. This is a very powerful position, and the regulations of the power are not in place. While these companies were casting their net, the Prepper Life® Twitter account was banned, and Norton Safe Web labeled our site as "Suspicious". While I was able to get these labels removed, it just goes to show you the connection people make with those who focus on being prepared.
Changes in Perception
Introducing Covid-19, the moment many people woke up. Those who were preparing for a global pandemic all of the sudden didn't look so crazy. Then January 6th, when a group tried to stifle our democratic process, but security preparations of the Capital won out. Regardless, people began imagining what America would look like if our democratic process collapsed, and just how close we were from that potential reality. In both of these cases, we came real close to life changing in very dramatic ways. The Covid pandemic definitely did change our world in many ways, but it could have been much, much worse.
In the past few years, the number of individuals that have started their preparedness journey has multiplied. All of the sudden, being prepared is not just for the extremists. As these individuals do their research and are becoming more prepared, they are becoming Preppers. The line is being more clearly drawn between those who want to be prepared and those who are preparing for doomsday. You don't have to move to the country, build a bunker and buy a tank to be a Prepper, you just need to be prepared for realistic changes to our daily lives.
Change is the Only Constant
We have many creature comforts today and we take them for granted. Change is guaranteed, in fact, it is the only thing you can count on. Most people don't even know how to live without their phone for 24 hours, much less power. There are many realistic dangers that people should be prepared for. Take a closer look at where you live, are you in danger of a natural disaster, are you prepared for it? Analyze the global political climate and military threats. Do you understand just how fragile our power grid is? Before you put Preppers in the "crazy conspiracy theorists" box, do a bit of research.
There has been an increase in preparations by the wealthy in America. These millionaires aren't just looking for something to spend money on, they are typically intelligent individuals and looking to protect themselves and their family, just as we all are, they just have the means to take it to the next level. But you won't find them on the "Doomsday Preppers" show, they are making preparations on the down low.
I Bet You're A Prepper Too
The distinction between being a prepared person and being a prepper can be difficult to distinguish, but what is the difference really? If you remove the stigmatism that preppers only prepare for Armageddon, then you can start to see that there are many things people prepare for. You might be a prepper if:
- You have a fire extinguisher near the kitchen
- You have multiple flashlights and spare batteries
- You keep a first aid kit handy
- You buy extra toilet paper
- You have a vegetable garden
When a wildfire happens in California or a Hurricane in Florida, the internet is full of advice on how to be better prepared. Nobody thinks twice about following the advice and considers being prepared an intelligent thing to do. But call them a prepper and they may get offended.
Prepper is not a bad word, and it doesn't imply that you fear a zombie apocalypse, it is a term that suggests you understand circumstances can change and are prepared to deal with the situation when they do.