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Your Reason for Prepping is Stupid

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Have you ever uttered these words or simply thought them to yourself? Have you maybe been talking to someone online or reading the comments on your favorite prepping site’s latest article and thought that the person commenting was an idiot for what they said their main concerns about the world were and their reasons for getting prepared? From time to time I will write about a topic and although the comments are 99.5% positive (almost unheard of nowadays) there are times when someone will mock either a commenter on an article, or what I wrote specifically. They will essentially say that what someone else is saying is stupid.

Why would they react this way? It’s human nature I guess and each of us have our own ideas of what makes sense and what is irrational. We view the world through our own filters and judge what is right, wrong and plain old wacko. This could be for all manner of things from religious beliefs, politics or social issues. I am not saying I don’t do this myself to some degree, but I started to wonder why people react with just as much disdain on prepping issues as you might with a political race. I can understand if you have political differences and while I would like to hope everyone stays civil, I can see where you would disagree with my positions on any one of a number of things and come to your own conclusion that my stance is just plain wrong. Or stupid.

But what I am talking about is prepping and more precisely the reasons people give for prepping. The overall goal of preppers is what? It is to be prepared for whatever life throws at you, is that not correct? Maybe you believe that one event more than another is most likely to happen but if you are prepping in a smart way you will be ready to deal with a wide variety of situations. Preppers all over ascribe to this philosophy I think but there are others still who think they know exactly what is going to happen. Why do I say that? It is because if you don’t believe exactly as they do, or if you believe something is possible that they don’t…you are an idiot in their eyes. What they are doing to prep is rational but your ideas are crazy. When we look at what you are doing, prepping is stupid.

You are just being paranoid

Actually, it doesn’t start out like that. It is more nuanced I believe and maybe it wasn’t intentional, but I think on a subconscious level, it is an effort by these people to present themselves as mentally superior to the person they are denigrating and to avoid getting lumped into the “crazy prepper” category. How is this done? They simply say you are being paranoid. That one simple word does two things. First, it minimizes what you believe based upon your knowledge, intuition and experience. Secondly it positions them above you because they are obviously not paranoid. Paranoid has a negative connotation since it is derived from a mental condition. If you are someone exhibiting the symptoms of a mental condition, you are not to be trusted, you most likely need psychiatric help and we should ignore you as quickly as possible.

It would be one thing if this was coming from someone who we call the ‘sheeple’ – the people who go through life thinking that nothing is wrong and who steadfastly believe that the government will always take care of you. No, in this case it is coming from someone who claims to call themselves a prepper too so I don’t understand why one person who believes it is rational to take steps in case of a disaster believes that another person who is taking steps to be prepared for another disaster is a nut-ball.

I have experienced this in several ways over the last couple of years but most recently I was viewing a conversation between several preparedness bloggers. Yes we have a secret community where we all get together and talk about you. No, seriously, there is a forum for preparedness bloggers to share information and on this forum one blogger who has a site geared toward prepping was describing the content that they most wanted on their site. Among other various topics they mentioned “nothing paranoid” as in I don’t want to have anything paranoid on my site. To be fair to this blogger, I didn’t ask for clarification so they might have had a different understanding of the word but the impression is the same. I don’t want anything that I think is stupid on my site. This was also repeated on another blog I contacted almost two years ago about partnering and they told me that they didn’t want to associate with anyone who preached ‘paranoid doom and gloom’ topics or subjects.

OK, fair enough. It is your blog and you get to say whatever you want to. I understand that and believe me I feel the same way. What I don’t get though is where we have this bias on prepping topics and more specifically, what makes you think you have all the answers? Each of us is saying that in order to prepare you need to do X, Y and Z. None of that is really in dispute. Oh sure, there are differences in opinion over the best garden types and whether or not you should stock up food or learn how to forage for wild tubers in your backyard but everyone agrees you need to eat.

We talk about home security and there are worlds of differences in opinion about what is the best handgun or rifle and what situations you may find yourself but we usually agree that everyone needs some form of personal defense. We are all talking about preparing, but as soon as you start talking about what you are preparing for, you enter the uncomfortable zone. Tell anyone you have some extra food stored up and they don’t blink an eye. Tell them you have extra food stored up because you are afraid government will declare martial law… well you are just being paranoid. And stupid.

Who cares why I am prepping?

Let’s take this to a more extreme example and use our favorite “crazy” prepper issue of zombies. Now if someone truly believes that they are prepping because zombies are a real and credible threat what does that mean to you? They have food stored up, water, security in the form of firearms and self-defense training (zombie based naturally) and they have medical supplies on hand to deal with injuries resulting from contact with the undead. If they really believe that zombies will be shuffling down the street one day, how does this bother you?

In your frame of mind this is stupid. It can never happen and maybe you are right but what difference does it make? I am preparing my family for all sorts of events. What if a tornado never takes down my home? What if an earthquake, mudslide or wildfire never happen? What if the economy suddenly turns around and we are all millionaires in a few months? What if the government suddenly says, “hey, we know we have been wrong about… almost everything, so let’s start over.”? Does that make my preparations stupid?

People have compared prepping to life insurance and I like that analogy. It doesn’t matter how I die as long as I am covered by life insurance from the perspective that there is something in place to provide an income to my family. Would you call someone who gets life insurance because they live in a bad town paranoid? Would you say that someone who has a large family to protect and takes out a life insurance policy is stupid? Of course not. Insurance for a million reasons makes sense and I can’t think of anyone ever who was called paranoid for getting insurance for their family’s sake.

At least within our own prepping community I think we should have a little more grace and understanding. I don’t care if the grid goes down and my neighbor has food and provisions stocked up because he thinks we would be invaded by little green men. He is prepared and that is something I value and respect. Maybe that is what we should be focusing on instead of whether or not your reason is PC or something I agree with. Then again, maybe I’m just stupid.

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  • Bill

    “Prepping” means different things to different people.
    For example:
    If I am going camping for the weekend, my prepping includes ice, basic first aid, a place to sleep, enough food for the weekend, and (at least in South Florida) a Kayak.

    If I am going four wheeling for a few hours, my “prepping” is pretty much a way to get my Jeep unstuck. Shovel, winch (and rope), pullys, ect.

    Even going to the beach, we prep with sunscreen, a towel, and something dry to change into. Maybe a few sandwiches and drinks.

    We all “prep” for stuff. The whole idea of a “prepper” is simply taking preparing for things to a larger degree.
    We see this every time a hurricane hits us. We have the “preppers” (those who boarded up, stocked up on food, water, and charcoal) and we have those who DIDN’T prep. We see them sitting in the car for hours waiting for the Red Cross to hand them a few bags of ice. It happens every time.
    Now, are those who were actually ready for the aftermath of the Hurricane considered crazy? Absolutly not.
    Why then, should those who are preparing for something even worse considered crazy?

    • I know! Part of this is that I can almost excuse this from someone who isn’t prepared in the slightest but coming from other so-called preppers?!?!

      Pat

  • NRP

    Hi-All

    Ok, I just had to weigh in on this one.

    Let me say first and foremost that yes; you ALL are Paranoid, Crazy’s, Wacko, and probably sit around with those cool looking pointed tinfoil hats on, AND I don’t care what you say there ARE Zombies rooming the streets every night just outside my house…… HAHAHA..… And by god I’m happy to be one of those, dare I say it? “Peppers’” probably in my case “Crazy Prepper” thank you very much.

    Unfortunately it seems that everything/one is trying to tell us all of the above, but as soon as something happens (even a small piece of dung hitting the provable fan), guess whom they look to? The hardest thing in being a prepper, IMO, is doing so and keeping my big mouth shut as they all look to the Sluverment (not a spelling mistake) to take care of them using my hard earned tax dollars to pay for their BS. Hell there are even people that KNOW that a hurricane (or whatever) is coming and don’t even fill their gas tank so they can drive to safety. Talk about a lack of prepping and true FOLLY… LOL

    One question, where can I find some of those “X, Y, and Z” you mentioned? HAHAHA The point is we all have to take all the ideas we see and read about and do as we see fit, there is NO all-encompassing guild book out there. Now I know there is more info out there than anyone can ever know, that’s why prepping is so personal, everyone and I do mean EVERYONE is different as to what they need. And for GODS sake do not Not NOT just give up on what we all know is the right thing to do and just follow the sluverment’s guidelines. That will get you through ohhhhh maybe ten minutes.

    Lastly, like you Pat, I give all due respect to anyone and everyone that at least tries to watch out for (prep) their selves and their families. I don’t care if it’s only an extra can of beans a week or keeping the gas tank more than ½ full. I for one will never tell someone they are “all of the above” for at least trying.

    Thank you for a great article
    NRP

    OHHHH and FYI, I do have one of those cool hats 🙂

  • Thank you!

    Glad you weighed in NRP and please feel free to do it again. I may just put an article together for how to make those hats… You never know what people will search for.

    Pat

  • usmarinestanker

    Nice article Pat, were you recently the target of some criticism or just noticing it in general?

    I think people’s inclination to alienate and tear down others is twofold in cause.

    The first reason stems from perhaps a self-defense mechanism based on feelings of inferiority whereby the attacker needs to make themselves feel good for whatever reason (as you noted in your article). There is some evidence supporting this: people subconsciously sabotaging their loved ones’ attempts to better themselves when they themselves are not (e.g. quitting smoking/drinking, beginning to exercise, eating more healthfully, etc).

    http://www.drphil.com/articles/article/71

    http://www.mybodytutor.com/blog/2011/04/why-your-friends-and-loved-ones-sabotage-your-weight-loss-efforts/

    By keeping you “in line” you are not pulling ahead and leaving them behind; ergo they do not have to assess and change their own lives. It’s the same line of thinking about why bullies are bullies – they’re sad on the inside. If your prepping reasons are stupid and can be torn down then perhaps the attacker doesn’t need to reassess his plans or question if buying 10,000 cases of garlic for the looming vampire invasion was wise.

    The second reason, I believe, is an extension of the normalcy bias: “mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. This may result in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of governments to include the populace in its disaster preparations.” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normalcy_bias )

    The article goes on to say, “The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred then it never will occur. It can result in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation.”

    Conversely, “The opposite of normalcy bias would be overreaction, or “worst-case thinking” bias, in which small deviations from normality are dealt with as signaling an impending catastrophe”

    So, if they can’t fathom your idea as being possible and they view you as overreacting, it is natural for them to then place your ideas in the “stupid” category, thereby making themselves feel better that they are not chicken little.

    Add on to this the associated social stigma of how the public and family view “preppers” and how the Government actually views preppers whether justified or not, and you strengthen the rationale behind attacking “fringe” ideas. What sounds better to you, despite the same preps being involved? “I live on a small homestead with a tornado shelter/root cellar because I like to live naturally, avoid processed foods, raise animals, and get in touch with the earth because I feel drained by the societal ills of the modern lifestlye. I hunt, gather, and garden and use a wood stove to reduce my carbon footprint.” versus “I have a bomb shelter, guns, and food for my family and closest friends to live for a year on a plot of land 500 miles from the nearest sign of civilization because I’m afraid King Obama is going to use the Constitution for toilet paper and destroy our rights by taking our guns away. Then the blacks will rise up and a race war will start and the supply chains will be disrupted because the Illuminati want it that way and 90% of everyone in the big cities will die. Then the elites will sweep in to “save” everyone as the AntiChrist with fiat currency in a never-ending cycle of debt-slavery.”

  • Vampire Invasion?!?! Why am I just now hearing about this??? 🙂

    No, I haven’t been the target directly, at least I don’t believe. If so, it didn’t work because I was oblivious. I just noticed this on several blogs and in the interactions I was talking about. “No Fear” or “No Paranoia” allowed types of messaging or branding are what I mean and I believe you hit the nail on the head with the normalcy bias but It just struck me as odd that preppers were demonstrating this as much or more than the regular populace that don’t prepare.

    And I know what you mean by how framing the preparations or the reasons for your preps can swing wildly both ways but again this is preppers I am talking about. People who will almost always lean a certain way when it comes to prognosticating the future based upon what we see around us. Just seems odd. Maybe it is more like your first example of sabotaging our loved ones?

    Pat

  • BobW

    I have to believe this stems from two distinct elements. One is the personal self doubt that crops up when a person is putting away the latest 1,000 rounds of ammo, the most recent extra case of food, etc.. Its the “will we ever use this, or did I just throw away little Johnny’s college fund for nothing” thoughts that seed self-doubt about what people are doing. Poopoo’ing your nuclear Armageddon thoughts is a way of rationalizing my ‘normal’ zombie invasion thoughts.

    The second is what I’ll call “mainstreamitis.” There are enough fringe elements out there giving the movement a bad name. One can only imagine that bloggers that take what they are doing seriously want to avoid the junk that will wind up in a google search on “crazy conspiracies” or what not.

    Me? I’m prepping for the big NFL playoffs cable blackout. Radios, batteries, bags of flavored popcorn and of course a fat roll of $1s in case I have to hit up a watering hole to see the game. 🙂

    Thanks for the work you do, Pat.

    • Pat

      Thanks Bob! You are so crazy! They would never black out football…

  • Snake Plisken

    It’s always a good idea to step back from the daily grind of life and reflect on a person’s prepping plan. Sometimes we are too close to an issue and need some daylight.

    Personally, I prep because I have to for a couple of reason’s.

    I am a full blown commission sales guy and if I have a rough patch in my earnings ( even hard work and doing everything right can often go bad ) so I have to be prepared for a couple three months w/o a paycheck. With proper planning and stocked up I can eat well ( hell, it was time to rotate some of the canned goods anyway!) and keep the utilities on.

    Sometimes a short term event can make a profound example of why we prep and provide ample evidence. We had a toxic algae bloom this last summer and couldn’t drink the tap water even if you boiled it. I have plenty of drinking water on hand at all times so I did not have to rush to the Big Box store or wait in line for the NG to fill water containers. I had 2 neighbors come over and ask for several gallons of drinking water and I gave them what they needed to tide them over because they have small kids.

    A sense of well being and confidence to comfortably ride out short term or longer term events allows a person to focus on their family and other immediate needs. If you’re not in a panic you are much better placed emotionally and have a much more rational perspective of what’s going on around you. Desperation and fear are a mind killer.

    I get a lot of sh!t from my Dad and other normalcy biased person’s about my preps and to tell the truth, I don’t care what they think and never have.

    Lastly, one of the most amusing things that we all witness is the run on the grocery store before a big weather event. Milk, eggs and bread fly off the shelves by the ton a minute and people are frantic to stock up before that nasty weather hits. I take a quick inventory that doesn’t include dairy and bread because I already have all that. My concern is……do I have enough cigars, beer and salsa? A prepper needs to have priorities ya know!

    Bless ya’ll!

    Snake Plisken

    • It looks like you have your priorities in order Snake!

      • Snake Plisken

        I try to keep my life and hobbies in perspective.

        I did have a thought though……do Preppers have their own Normalcy Bias?

        Best,

        Snake Plisken

        • usmarinestanker

          I think we do, but it’s more related to the version of catastrophe we’re planning for, hence the dilemma in Pat’s article about preppers thinking other preppers are stupid.

          Our normalcy bias would probably be better termed “tunnel vision” or “one track mind”

        • That sounds like a great post idea….

      • NRP

        Pat
        What the heck are you thinking????
        Running out of Beer and Salsa IS IS IS a HUGE catastrophe!!!!TEOTWAWKT is nada compared to that LOL
        And let me tell ya, fill a room full of Football crazy’s, cut the cable or run out of Chips…. OMG. You think Ferguson was bad. HAHAHAHA
        Good food for thought though.
        NRP

        • BobW

          See. Its not that I’m crazy. Its that I’m a different kind of crazy than you.

  • Southern AZ

    I’ve also encountered another reactiion from those who are not prepared. They reject the notion because they have never considered that anything can go ‘wrong enough’ to need to prepare. It is unfathomable to them and they are incapable of imagining such a situation. Often, they are busy with work and life and just can’t, or won’t add another ‘worry’ to their list. My sister falls into this ‘worry list’ group. She has time and energy to worry about their next cruise but not an emergency supply. My prepping unfortunately includes the scenario when I tell her that she and he aren’t in my plans.

    • That’s a tough one. I know people (in my family) that are exactly the same. I hope I never have to have a conversation like that.

  • CharlesH

    I loved this article – thanks a lot. I may be stupid too but you know what? I’m in a much better position today than I was 2 years ago thanks to my stupidity. I do have food storage, water, protection and a few other things just to make life a bit easier – just in case. In case of what – who in the hell knows? NO ONE knows but they know they’re doing something to survive – to live, to breath, to have something to eat and water to drink. If I’m killed in a catastrophe there isn’t a damn thing I’ll be able to do about it. How about if something bad happens and I don’t die or become seriously injured? Everything I’ve done is for my existence…after. If I never have to use a thing I’ve prepped – GREAT – to me it’s just another type of insurance – car, health, life, whatever – no different. I don’t want to total my car just to say I used the insurance. I don’t want to have my house burn down just so I can say I collected on my home owners insurance. I NEVER WANT TO COLLECT ON ANY INSURANCE I HAVE. Where would I be though if I don’t have this (prepping) insurance?

  • GREAT thoughts. I agree that someone’s motivation for prepping shouldn’t really matter to anyone but them. The important thing is that they’re making the effort to prepare for the unexpected (or, depending on where they live, the probable). We may not all have the same motivations, but we can still be polite to each other and supportive of the community as a whole.
    Thanks for the article. I’m going to link to this from EE’s twitter, FB, and blog.
    Best,
    Sarah

  • david

    In this neighborhood, I am already surrounded by zombies, (and the fun hasn’t even started yet. I got people who have lived here for over thirty years, and they haven’t even learned to speak English yet- either that, or they don’t want to. You think I wanna share my preps, with people who don’t have enough brain cells to walk and chew gum at the same time? I- and the people I care about, will be out of here when the deal goes down, so fast you don’t see my ass for dust. (I plan to revisit- just to watch- when cannibalism starts). This is nature’s way:
    You have just been naturally de-selected!

  • Gg

    Hi! Just came upon your site and I am enjoying going through and reading. It seems that it doesn’t take long for some to turn a great idea into a personal dogma that is geared toward a those-who-get-it vs. those-who-don’t…even when we are really all on the same page. Sorry to hear there is the in-group/out-group mentality at work, but the reality of an emergency situation is unpredictable….if we could fully predict it, it would not create such an emergency, right? Kudos to all who look ahead and plan as best can be done with the resources we have. Thanks for the great articles and conversations.

    • Pat

      Thank you very much Gg and I hope you return to our site.

      Pat

  • Jackson B. Nimble

    Remember that Noah was considered an idiot until the second day of rain.

    • Pat

      Very true Jackson!