Are We Preppers Wrong? Well…

Non-preppers, or as my self-reliant pals like to call them, “sheeple” are 100 percent wrong about the five million or so Americans who choose to prepare for looming disaster and live a self-reliant lifestyle.

Six years ago, I was functioning under the misconception that I was a non-prepper married to a mega prepper. Turns out, as most rural folks are, I was a prepper and didn’t even know it.

When I “came out” as a prepper to the sheeple in my life, the shocked, baffled, and incredulous looks on their faces told me all I would ever need to know about what non-preppers think about the prepared.

The sheeple immediately cast a paranoid nut job label on us, stereotyping the entire prepared community as uneducated rednecks hunkered down in their bunker clinging to their stockpile of pork and beans while holding a machine gun at the ready.

Ironically, many of the same folks hurling ridiculous insults against another group of people are liberals who claim to loathe narrow-minded labels, stereotypes, and profiling – but I digress.

Six years ago, a severe summer storm blew threw out region and took out the power lines for more than a week.

As you can expect, city people were far less able to deal with such a short-term crisis than us country folks who have generators, gasoline stored in our garages, gardens growing out back, are able to hunt and fish, and have guns to protect ourselves from the looting that never occurred in our rural country.

It was then that I realized what being a prepper really meant and would mean in the future. Living in a rural area, most everyone knows how to grow and preserve food, hunt and fish for food, find and treat water from a creek or pond, and protect themselves. So, even though I never actually thought of myself as a prepper, I had the right mindset and a handful of skills.

It does not take long to evaluate how prepared you are…and aren’t, when a small disaster like this happens. There was no operational gas station within 30 miles.

The few stations that did open in the next county over did not do so until day three after the storm – and placed a $15 limit on fuel purchases. This was when gas was almost $4 per gallon.

Most folks here drive gas-guzzler 4-wheel drives so they can get around in the winter and haul equipment to and from their farms.

The $15 in gas only go us to where we could futility search for ice, water, and food and then back home again. I neglected to mention we were going through a heat wave at the time, it was literally 103 most days during the regional disaster.

FEMA did arrive to help – four days after the storm. They did not bring enough ice of water to serve even half the residents in the county

They had not bothered to coordinate the relief effort with the regional FEMA director, so no volunteers were there to help unload, there was not enough traffic control and people were running out of gas waiting on blocked roadways for up to two hours at a time – as the ice the FEMA staffers placed out on pallets melted in the sun.

Only one bag of ice and one case of water per car was allowed, no exceptions for residents who car-pooled because they had no gas for their cars or who were picking up the rations for an elderly neighbor. Bad day for the county, but a day that surely made me glad to be a kinda prepper married to a serious prepper!

When residents were warned to conserve water because there was only a 3-day reserve and available unless the power came back on (it didn’t) panic swept through far too much of the country and the emergency water supply was gone in 24 hours.

Many folks would have gone hungry if my rural friends and neighbors had not taken it upon themselves to organize a community cookout at the high school, to share food from their refrigerators before it spoiled.

The storm cost us our grocery store, a new one did not open for four years after the storm. The owners allowed people to come in carrying flashlights and write down what they took and an IOU for the food to help the unprepared who had neither food nor cash to buy anything because all the banks were closed and ATM machines and credit card machines were not operational either.

The storm was an incredible motivator for me to become a devoted and full-time prepper – and eventually prompted me to switch my writing career around to focus on prepping and homesteading, which ultimately led to doing radio shows, presenting at prepper expos, and writing my first book. Needless to say, I was all in – much to the shock of the non-preppers in my life.

My often futile attempts to educate non-preppers is definitely not in any way a plea for acceptance or undertaken based upon a desire to justify my lifestyle choices. Nope, not at all.

I engage in the frustrating conversations in an attempt to save lives. If you can enlighten just one person, they and their loved on just might embark on the path to self-reliance, take their family with them, and survive a SHTF disaster.

Why Do “Normal” People Have so Much Disdain for Preppers?

Most people who are preppers, or people who are just entertaining the idea of embarking on a lifestyle journey of personal readiness and self-sufficiency, instinctively understand that there might very well be some significant social consequences attached to that decision.

For the vast majority of people, consequences and especially social consequences drive decision making. 

You or someone you know has likely suffered from some anxiety or outright fear at the notion that your friends, family members, coworkers, and maybe even potential employers could find out about your lifestyle choices and make judgments about you that will negatively affect your prospects.

That’s nothing to be ashamed of, and it is indeed quite a normal feeling! But this does beg the greater question: why do people feel the way they do about preppers and prepping in general?

The answer is simple enough, but that answer leads to even more questions and many of those questions head off in darker directions, directions that I believe every prepper should know about.

I believe that fundamentally normal people, these sheeple I mentioned, feel the disdain they do because, first and foremost, it makes them feel uncomfortable because it raises the notion that something bad and completely out of control could happen to them in their loved ones, and they wouldn’t be prepared to do anything about it.

People naturally shun and demonize things they don’t understand or that impinges upon their deeply held convictions however wrong they might be.

Second, and far more sinister in intention, there is a coordinated, sustained and ongoing campaign across most forms of media to paint people who want to live a life of extreme self-reliance and self-help as radicals, weirdos, awkward and generally undesirable.

There is evidence that strongly suggests this campaign is planned and initiated at the highest echelons of our media institutions across the land.

Accordingly, because of media is such a powerful and invasive propaganda element these days, as it always has been, those without much in the way of critical thinking skills or strong moral values that form an internal locus of control we’ll go along with these assertions and shape their personality and their opinions accordingly, making them hostile or at least disdainful towards the idea of prepping and preppers themselves.

This Negative Image Has Been Engineered

Don’t believe me? I have a challenge for you: I challenge you to think of two movies, TV shows or any other major media production that showcases what you and I know to be a normal prepper in anything even approximating a positive light. Is that too hard? Then can you think of just one?

Chances are you cannot because that is by design. Preppers in media and  in so called reality shows in particular are always shown to be characters. People with out there personalities who are some combination of daydreamers, paranoids, incompetent, and ineffectual.

Many such folks featured on the shows don’t hold down what society considers normal jobs living in normal homes in normal communities throughout the land.

Many of them are portrayed as not even being particularly good at the things that they espouse as important when it comes to prepping. The old show Doomsday Preppers was perhaps the very worst in this regard.

So when people see, day in and day out on such programming, a rogues’ gallery of wild-eyed, nervous and frankly awkward folks preparing for the Apocalypse negative associations are built rapidly and solidly. “I’m not like that,” the viewer tells him or herself, “and I don’t want to hang out with a person like that or even be around them.”

And bang, there you have it: pretty soon the notion of being prepared is nothing but one negative connotation after another and so the social paradigm is further shaped.

I’ll bet a good amount of money that the vast majority of people reading this who fall into the category of prepper at any level are likely normal people and broadly indistinguishable from the mass of humanity in the place that they live.

You probably work a normal job or are self-employed, attend to all of the countless chores that are intrinsic to home and family life, pay your taxes, go to church and squeeze in some precious hobby time when the calendar allows. In other words, bog standard normal people who understand the crucial importance of being radically self-reliant in times of trouble.

Sure, any group, class or spectrum of people across the broad reaches of humanity will be host to a few outliers, colorful characters or special folks. That is a statistical certainty, but it is the outliers that prove the rule as the saying goes. 

So why does this negative stereotype and the media depictions that prop it up persist? The answer, the ultimate answer, is not pretty.

Governments like Dependent People

Bottom line up-front, is this media depiction and general cultural disdain for a lifestyle of prepping and the preppers that uphold it is because governments like dependent people. What’s that? You still believe that the government wants us all to be prepared for bad times?

Oh sweet summer child… Just because the government has “milk carton” outreach programs for disaster readiness as peddled by the likes of FEMA, DHS and others does not mean that they really want you living a lifestyle of freedom and Independence.

Of course they want you alive so that you can keep paying taxes, but governments always want citizens that are a little less capable of living, especially through hard times, without their omnipresent “assistance.”

This is because the more assistance that citizens need the greater and quicker the government can grow because that growth will be justified or indeed clamored for by the citizenry.

Of course, this is a Faustian agreement that will only ever end in tyranny and death, but that is a lesson that our descendants will have to pay for our foolishness.

Whenever disaster strikes, and be it a man-made catastrophe like an economic collapse, terrorist incident or military attack or a good old-fashioned natural disaster such as an earthquake, tornado, hurricane or something else, the government will swoop in and splash around all of that delicious taxpayer money stolen from the population.

Naturally, things will be so bad that they will need even more money, and they will need more agencies to deal with it. And so the government grows and grows.

Don’t believe me? Consider the effects of hurricane Katrina and it’s long-lasting and long-suffering aftermath as Exhibit A.

Whatever the incident, whatever the cause, on the back side of it in the aftermath some people will be so ruined that they will become completely dependent upon charity and often the form of government handouts in order to keep on living.

The government loves this, because it allows them to waive a wand of counterfeit benevolence over a mass of poor wretches who don’t even have two sticks to rub together and, using that as justification, extract even more money from the rest of the populace and accordingly grow ever more powerful.

This vicious cycle of government growth that is facilitated by an ever widening, ever deepening permanent class of dependent citizens is the chief driver of tyranny. Full stop.

People who are strong, capable, skilled and prepared for making their own way in the world, everything from the food and water they need to eat and drink to defense against dangerous animals, predatory humans and natural disasters alike are in no way dependent on the government and would greatly prefer to be left alone. 

You don’t need to listen to what people say if you will simply watch what they do. Remembering this, does it really seem like the government wants people to be prepared?

No, it doesn’t. Knowing this, now perhaps you will begin to understand the steady, constant demonization of preppers. It is by design, and purpose driven.

Way Back, “Prepping” Was Just Called “Living”

However, this attitude stands in stark contrast to the way that things used to be way back in the day. Coincidentally, and perhaps a little curiously, our government was much smaller back then too. Hmm. I’m sure it’s nothing…

Anyway, way back in the era when our grandparents and great-grandparents were growing up in this fine country, what we call prepping or survival skills today weren’t really survival skills. Back then, they were just called life skills, and using those skills was just called living!

Learning how to procure food and clean drinking water for the working homestead that you lived on wasn’t some sort of special survival scenario where society got turned upside down, but instead was just part and parcel with everyday life!

Knowing how to find your way, mend clothes, raise animals, butcher animals, hunt, fish, build a fire and keep your tools in good repair we’re all just chores back then, even if the consequences for screwing them up could have been quite severe.

Back then, those consequences, should they occur, would help be covered by friends and neighbors in your community who were invested in seeing you survive and thrive if only because you were supposed to be similarly invested in them.

These days, most people don’t even know their neighbors on their street that well, and if they do they have the sort of flimsy, half-assed friendship that can only be born of proximity and little else. People who run into real trouble wind up dependent on the government, or at least dependent upon its mercies which are in vanishingly short supply. 

In these earlier times, people had to be prepared, really prepared for potential but all two possible bad outcomes. fruits, vegetables and meats would be preserved and stored via canning. what little money remained after necessities were taken care of would be husbanded and saved carefully. Nowadays, a rush on toilet paper is considered a legitimate national calamity.

During the madness that resulted from an unspecified virus of unknown origin, people had resorted to stealing toilet paper out of gas station bathrooms to re-up their supplies. Give me a break! In fact, it is a safe bet that most folks don’t even have a proper first aid kit in their homes or in their vehicles. How prepared is that, huh?

It is sad to consider that people today only have on hand what resources they have, and are the very definition of living paycheck to paycheck however nice and opulent their life might look on the outside.

It might look nice, and they might look like they have it all put together, but modernity has rendered most people’s lives as fragile as a robin’s egg.

If you too are sick and tired of the non-preppers in your world snickering about your wise choices and the better angels of your nature propel you to try and save them before it is too late, try explaining what our lifestyle is really about using some of my favorite entry level talking points listed below.

What Prepping Is

  • ✅ An investment in your future. Every dime spent will ensure the family will have food, clothing, shelter, and medical aid.
  • ✅ Insurance against unknown and potential emergencies, not unlike the purchase of car, house, and life insurance.
  • ✅ A deliberate decision to live a getting back to the basics, self-reliant, and sustainable life like our ancestors and pioneers who built this country once did.
  • ✅ A family-friendly activity base upon the concepts of personal responsibility, as well as duty to family and country.
  • ✅ A life-long commitment fuel by ongoing education and training experiences, physical challenges, and good old-fashioned hard work – hopefully the concept of a work ethic is not entirely unfamiliar with the non-preppers in your family, social circle, and place of employment!

What Prepping Isn’t

  • ❌ Comprised of 24/7 camo-clad weekend warriors eager to watch the country or world implode.
  • ❌ A secret handshake society that meets in underground bunkers while wearing tin-foil hats and speaking in tongues – or at least using really poor grammar while discussing the latest theories they read on Facebook.
  • ❌ A group of paranoid people who have been off their medicine way too long and are chomping at the bit to shoot someone.
  • ❌ Isolated and uneducated folks who cannot understand what is really going on in the outside world the few rare times they leave their “holler.”
  • ❌ Poor people who blow their “government benefits” on guns and ammo and allow their “at risk” homeschooled and barefoot children to go hungry while they stockpile preps.

One thing is for certain, no matter how much I like the non-preppers that I know in general, or how long I have known them, they WILL NOT be given refuge at my sustainable prepper retreat. No sir.

They all had the same chance to prepare as me and my family did – and a now seasoned prepper even willing to act as their guide on the journey. Those who choose to remain sheeple do so at their on peril.

updated 01/25/2022

12 thoughts on “Are We Preppers Wrong? Well…”

  1. Well thought out and well stated. Thank you. You really need to hire a proof reader though. The text is riddled with missing words and spelling errors.

  2. You got lucky.Our electric was out for over a week with temps hovering around 100 or better.We received NO help from any one.We were on our own but we survived without any help.Friends and family ride me about prepping and say they’re coming to my house if SHTF.I tell ’em “You ain’t coming to my house.I’ve told you to prepare and you laugh at me.When SHTF,I’ll be the one laughing and I’ll be holding a shotgun if you show up.”I’ll take my grandkids in because they don’t have a choice but the mommies and daddies are on their own because they think I’m silly.We’ll see and I hope I’m being silly but……

    1. ChickenPatti13,

      I tell friends who shake their head and laugh at our prepping the exact same thing! Thankfully, over the past couple of years, more and more of them are coming around at least somewhat to my way of thinking. Many of them have become backyard homesteaders if they live in town and others have started to preserve food from the farmer’s market and what I have given them from our garden and gotten their concealed carry license. It’s a start, I figure. I want them all to survive a SHTF disaster, but never at the expense of my own love ones.

  3. Back when I was only a teenager,We had the power go out for two weeks in the middle of winter ,My dad being a city person yet In the army,tried his best to keep us alive.But wasn’t doing a good job of it living off of cold can foods,It wasn’t until a neighbor came by who was a pepper , He showed my dad what to do,To keep us warm and how to cook our food without power,Since then I have become a prepper.People may laugh but when the power goes out they don’t laugh when. They watch my family eat warm food and have lights in my place.Then they respect me and want to learn how to survive.They laugh no more.

    1. Mark,

      I hope the great example you are setting will inspire your buddies and loved ones to become more self-reliant! That two weeks without power surely was horrible to suffer through as a teenager, but that experience prompted your survival journey and could likely save your life and the lives of others one day!

  4. Tara, have you ever considered writing an article for prepping the suburban and city elderly? There are many things you speak of that could easily be modified to work for someone who lives on their own but is over the age of 60-65. I have often asked about prepping for the elderly. It doesn’t seem to be something that is often considered. Example, I am over 65 and carrying a gallon container of water is not easy for me. Things like that.

    1. Mabel,

      It is very hard to find information about prepping for the elderly or disabled. I included a portion about each in a chapter in my book. Thinking about ways my grandparents could prep and a friend’s parent in the nursing home prompted the piece. But, I agree, a topic that deserves more space and something I may write about for Survival Sullivan one day soon!

    2. Mabel,

      Check back soon for an in-depth prepping for senior citizen article, it should be published by next week! Thank you again for the idea to expand on a very important aspect of prepping for both our loved ones and ourselves as we age!

  5. This is fantastic article, outlining the very important reasons why many of us are preppers. Living in the inter-mountain west, we see many, many days during the winter where the interstate is closed due to weather. It doesn’t take long for things to start dwindling at the stores. Nothing pleases me more than to know that while people are flocking to grocery stores for supplies, we are comfy and safe in our home with more than enough to get us by for an extended amount of time.

    1. Molly,

      That is a great feeling! Our rural county was without a grocery store for four years until just a few weeks ago – there was sheer panic here when the snow fell or during the fall and spring seasons when the county seat literally becomes an island! I look at our wood pile and smile every September when I know we won’t ever have to worry about getting cold even if we run out of generator fuel!

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