Doomsday Preppers and Rational Responses to Real Concerns

Posted: April 19, 2012 in Collapse
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Few of my friends and acquaintances would find it surprising that I was interested in how the new National Geographic show Doomsday Preppers would portray prepping for reasonably likely disasters and their overall take people concerned with/planning for the collapse of our industrial infrastructure.  Nor would most be surprised at my skepticism of the show’s intent or my assumptions that it would be exploitational and misrepresent the concerns of average preppers.  Reality TV is, after all, about sensationalism and laughing at the subjects presented in order for viewers to rationalize their own positions in this messed up world as “normal” and “sane” (being normal and sane in this world is a strange thing to strive for in my book).  It also is surprising to me that anyone who preps would agree to appear on that show given how it makes you less secure since everyone has some idea what you are doing.  But the bulk of the selected subjects seem more interested in showing off their arsenals and knowledge of unlikely apocalypses than actually helping others with the move to self-sufficiency or preparedness.

So I was quite pleased that I had the opportunity to write two short articles related to the show and prepping in general for a site that should reach more than few people (queue score for aspiring self-importance).  The first was a kind of defense of prepping as a reasonable response to real concerns about our heavy reliance on conveniences delivered by fragile infrastructure combined with our usual expectation on outside help in disaster scenarios.  This was contrasted to the overall sense of political weirdness, millenarianism, and racism in many of the show’s subjects, which is a marker of the fringe, right-wing, Christian elements of the prepper movement but not representative of the preppers I know.  If you are interested, you can read that here.

While I liked writing the first one, the second article was more fulfilling because it actually allowed me to articulate some of the most basic concerns folks like me who worry about this shit have and how someone who never thought about this before might begin to address them through basic and (relatively) inexpensive steps.  It’s not perfect, but it gets the major points right, I think.  And the pictures are actually amusing if you are familiar with the references, which probably no one who would read this is.  That article is available here.

What I elided in both articles (among other, lesser things) was addressing real and more complicated steps for self- and community-sufficiency necessary for a longer-term crisis.  This is not because I think collapse is a wingnut fantasy, far from it.  The chances that we will see huge changes in our status quo standard of living and access to needed resources are very real and unavoidable, and well-documented enough that I won’t dwell on them now.  The point of the articles, however, was to point those who are new-ish to thinking about this stuff in a relatively accessible direction so that they might actually take steps that I took years ago.  Ultimately, I’d hope they would move forward into basic preparedness and think about longer-term plans.  This is probably folly on my part, but every little bit of discussion on the topic, especially that removed from the lunatic fringe portrayed by shows like Doomsday Preppers, seems worth the time.
Anyway, I’m curious as to what you all think about the articles or this topic in general.  I’m thick-skinned, so pointing out things I missed or how nuts I might be is quite welcome.

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