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Episode 67: Are Preppers Crazy? (Why People Think Preppers are Crazy)

Are Preppers Crazy (Why People Think Preppers are Crazy) Survival Preparedness prepping prepper survivalist prepared disasterHave you ever truly looked at why people wonder why are preppers crazy? Well, that’s what we’re going to do in this episode. When this episode is over, you’ll stand a better chance of getting the non-preppers in your life on board with preparedness by answering the question, are preppers crazy in a positive manner.

All of us understand that when we want people to understand something important, there is a right way and a wrong way to approach them. Unfortunately, when passion like the passion we have for preparedness gets involved, we often find the way NOT to get them to understand us. Actually, we may drive them away from what it is we’re trying to convince them. So, in this episode, I’m going to cover six points that when understood by each of us, will make the act of convincing others to become better prepared much easier.

In this episode on Why People Think Preppers are Crazy:

  1. Preppers negative vocabulary.
  2. The effect normalcy bias plays.
  3. How non-preppers see us as weird.
  4. The impact of the surface negativity preparedness causes.
  5. What the negative impact of the media is.
  6. How we scare non-preppers.

Are Preppers Crazy?

Are preppers crazy? Many people outside of the preparedness world think just that, that preppers are crazy. Therefore, if we want to figure out how to stop people from thinking we’re crazy, we first need to look at what motivates them to think we’re crazy.  When it comes to motivating people to wonder whether preppers are crazy, these six points provide an insight into how preppers are viewed both individually and as a community.

We Scare People

It irritates me when preppers, especially people who make money from the prepping community, try to use fear as a motivation for others to prepare. In the case of people who make money from the prepping, and there's plenty of people out there doing it, fear is often used to part concerned preppers from their hard-earned money. It happens all the time with money that could possibly be used more effectively if focused on another area of readiness. 

I'm not sure. Are the people who use fear to motivate other preparedness-minded people trying to act like Prepper Drill Instructors? The bottom line is, scaring people into preparedness, especially those of you who seek to profit for other's preparation, does more harm than good. 

Remember, when it comes to disasters and bad things happening, they definitely occur. Because they do, we should prepare with the hopes of a better outcome and turning a tragedy into something at least a little less disastrous. 

I mean seriously, there's a reason the folk tale about Chicken Little came into being. And actually, the Chicken Little fable is based upon a Buddhist Jataka story, which from between 300-400 BC, called, "The Sound the Hare Heard." Jataka stories are stories about the former lives of the Buddha. 

The interesting side of the Chicken Little story is that as a community, we as preppers are often all painted with the same brush by other members of society. The brush that labels us all as Chicken Little's, whether we are or not. The problem is, it's the loudest of our like-minded friends who are quite often those who motivate from fear and do so at the highest decibel possible, and as frequently as possible. 

The fact is, surveys show one of the most sought after goals of preppers is to have improved confidence so that they can rise to the occasion when times get tough. Whether those tough times are a micro or macro disaster, people want to be mentally prepared to deal with it as best as possible. 

So, let me ask the question. When novice preppers turn to prepping hoping to gain the skills and confidence to protect their families and friends, why in the hell are we as a community trying to scare them? Does that make any sense? "

Before we get going on that, let's define fear. 

Fear, according to Merriam Webster, is:

    • An unpleasant, often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger. 

Now, let's define confidence. Confidence is defined as:

    • A feeling of consciousness of one's powers or of reliance on one's circumstances. 

So, just by their simple definitions, how confident do you think someone is when they are AFRAID. Fear doesn't build confidence. Actually quite to the contrary, fear can chew up confidence like a pride of hungry lion's munching on a wounded zebra. 

Therefore, let me ask you this. If we want others to get prepared. If we're going to be accepted as a community as more mainstream, should we try to scare the new and inexperienced? 

Should we treat them like a little brother or sister on Halloween? Or, should we use methods that help show people the benefits they'll gain by being prepared? 

After all, how often do we hear people genuinely talk about preparing for a job loss, or severe illness to the breadwinner in the family when it comes to prepping? How does that compare to people saying how we should prepare for that EMP we just know is coming? And, do we really wonder why some people think we're crazy? 

While it seems simple to not scare people new to prepping, I don't believe it is. At the same time, I believe the preparedness community will be served a lot better if we think about how we approach preparedness, especially when speaking with others about it. 

I'm not saying to be politically correct, and what I'm saying is to consider what we do as preppers that keep others from joining the fun. The real tragedy is that sometimes, those others that we scare also include our own family members. Family members who we often want to be receptive to our prepping mindset and goals. 

So, when talking with people, primarily people new to preparedness, why don't we use a different tact. Why don't we try to coach, support, and encourage them? 

Instead of saying that a disaster may happen tomorrow, tell them it's highly unlikely anything will happen anytime soon. Let them know that by asking, they've already taken the first step to becoming better prepared. They're opening their minds to it and taking decisive action. 

Then, at least they're thinking is somewhat on the right path as they head into difficult times. Not to mention at some point, they may be able to help you if it's needed. 

And, with the frequency of catastrophes being pretty rare, let them know that they don't need to feel overwhelmed. Let them know that feeling nervous and overwhelmed is normal. Hell, we are talking about disasters after al. 

After that, let them know that you're there to help logically guide them so that if a disaster ever does engulf them, they'll be that much better off. 

Because, let's face it, what percentage of us are truly satisfied with our preparedness no matter how prepared we are? The fact is that most, including me, will likely never be happy with my level of readiness. 

Therefore, if I ever find myself in another disaster, I will be as prepared as I can possibly be at the moment it happens. Not anymore, not any less. 

That applies the same to the one-day prepper as it does to the 20-year prepper. You are only ever as prepared as you are at that moment with whatever gear you have at hand and whatever mindset you have locked in. Which is why I am such a mindset fan. 

That's because the only thing we're guaranteed to have with us during a disaster is our mindset. A mindset that is better served with confidence and support than fear and overload. 

Negative Vocabulary

1. Prepper Vocabulary is Negative

Think about what we must sound like to someone who doesn’t yet understand preparedness. Think about the terms and acronyms we use that may make them question why are preppers crazy. Then think about the conversation where you insert those terms and acronyms. If you take a step back and look at it objectively, you can’t help but see that we often stick the crazy label on ourselves without even trying.

Let’s look at some of the languages that we, as preppers use.

SHTF

Sh!t Hit the Fan: Which according to the Urban Dictionaries defined as: “Used primarily to describe a set of circumstances where events became inflamed to a point that control was lost.”

TEOTWAWKI

The End of the World as We Know It. Who listening to this podcast thinks The End of The World as We Know It could be anything other than a depressing, non-fun thought. I mean, even if you prepare, the idea, not to mention the reality of, the end of the world as we know it is mind-blowing in the most definitely negative of ways.

Let’s think about it. If we’re talking an actual TEOTWAWKI situation, what does that mean? Well, we can either be talking about a lot of death and suffering, or something so revolutionary that we’re super stoked and unable to contain our happiness. The odds are since we’re preppers, we’re probably floating that conversation in a sea of serious SHTF talk.

So, here again, we rack up another point that as preppers, we’re good with. But, for non-preppers, it could be a little bit of a cause for concern.

Now, let’s talk about bugging out. Within bugging out, we start with…

Bug Out

Bug out is a term used by the military to mean that the enemy was on the way, bug out. People also say that someone’s eyes are bugged out. Either way, it’s used, don’t have a conversation on it.

Bug Out Location: I mean, does that sound like a place to be safe, or more like a place where you’d run if the law is chasing you. So, should we expect people to be comfortable when we tell them that we have a place to hole up if the heat is on?

Do we even need to talk about the terms: Bug Out Bag, Bug Out Location, Bug Out Vehicle?

Here’s a good one, literally GOOD. Get Out of Dodge

GOOD

Get Out of Dodge. In other words, things are so bad where we lived; I’m going to leave with my family to our bug out location, yes, our hideout. Most reasonable people would probably be a little unnerved if they thought about their town melting down to the point that people would evacuate it. Right or wrong, most people don’t want to think about the destruction of their town.

So, what does this all mean? It means that even though our intentions are good, we should consider how we speak with people who are not yet into preparedness. When speaking with people, it’s always a good idea to understand your audience and use terms that they know and which are not overwhelming.

Now, I imagine some of you are saying that a disaster is going to be difficult, so people need to toughen up and accept our preparedness terms. Yeah, sure, I got that. However, why throw the baby out with the bathwater?

In other words, is your intent to get others on board with preparedness, or is it to try and impress them with your preparedness lingo and knowledge regardless if it drives them away from becoming more prepared. After all, we want others to be part of the solution by becoming more prepared, rather than staying where they are and being part of the problem, right?

Normalcy Bias

In case you don’t know, normalcy bias is when someone chooses not to believe something terrible will happen because they’d rather believe that life will continue as normal. A life without anything strange happening. If you’d like to learn more about normalcy bias and other mindset issues that keep people from preparing, go to mind4survival.com/57. That's the episode where I discuss how to convince someone to prepare and go over five reasons people don’t prepare.

Normalcy bias is one of the reasons you saw stores get cleared out in advance of Hurricane Florence this past week. The people clearing out the stores were, by and large, people who didn't prepare because they chose not to, due to normalcy bias. That’s because normalcy bias is when someone chooses not to believe something terrible will happen because they’d instead think that things will continue as usual, without anything abnormal happening.

Unfortunately, there is little that you can do to stop another person’s normalcy bias. That is especially true when a person has no motivation to think another way.

Why doesn’t a person have the motivation to think another way? One reason is that the majority of people they interact with think like them. Groupthink tells them that the majority of people in the world believe the status quo will remain the norm, and nothing terrible will happen to them.

Groupthink

Groupthink tells people that not only will nothing terrible happen. It also states that if it does, there will be someone there to help them overcome the difficulty. That someone may be government, local community, charities, and others. In other words, groupthink, a.k.a. group normalcy bias, reinforces that people only need to be marginally prepared, if any preparations at all.

Heck, all we have to do is look at the FEMA “Build A Kit” webpage to see that the government recommends, which is storing three days of emergency food, water, and supplies. More specifically, FEMA states, and I quote, “After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your food, water, and other supplies to last for at least 72 hours.”

Now, as preparedness-minded people, we all know that while three days is a good start, history has proven that it’s not adequate. Just look back at Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, and other major disasters. During those events, many people were on their own for a lot longer than three days.

Group normalcy bias also helps manifest the mindset that it’s okay to NOT think about disasters and emergencies if they upset you. I believe that group normalcy bias, by its nature, encourages people to feel overwhelmed and overcome by fear at the mere thoughts of disasters. This happens when we overdramatize a disaster.

What's in a Title?

Think about it, what you heard about Hurricane Florence this past week. Heck, even today, some of the headlines on The Drudge report are titled: “Floods of Florence,” “Death Toll, Evacuations Rising…,” “Worst Yet to Come,” “LOOTERS CAPITALIZE ON CHAOS...,” “500K+ Without Power...,” “Wilmington, NC 'cut off'...,” and so on.

Sure, to people who prepare, those headlines reinforce why we prepare and are probably not overwhelming. However, to someone who has yet to embrace preparedness, those headlines combined with the ongoing 24/7 Hurricane Watch news coverage that bombards most people, can be downright intimidating and overwhelming. In other words, it can scare the heck out of people who then, to avoid feeling afraid, ignore the topic of preparation altogether.

Fear

On the topic of concern, Janis Erickson writes, “Experts agree that fear is a natural emotional response designed to keep us safe and out of harm’s way. However, when someone focuses for too long on an issue, they can inadvertently make it worse, creating a phobia.”  Now, I don’t know that everyone, or even most everyone who suffers from normalcy bias, has a phobia. However, it sure seems that they don’t want to think about a disaster. Then again, some probably don’t want to take the time to prepare. But, that’s another story for a future podcast.

We Seem Weird

Sometimes it’s a good idea to look at ourselves as an outsider, non-preparedness minded person's perspective. I get it, most of us don’t care what others think about us. However, the fact that many of us, including myself can come across as weird should enter our thought process when talking with non-preppers. Well, it should enter our mind if we are concerned with getting others to become better prepared.

With that, think about any interactions you’ve had with a gamer. Yes, a full-blown, Dungeons and Dragons, role-playing, World of Warcraft, Everquest, gaming addict. What would you think if you visited a gamer home and they began showing you their odd-shaped dice, talking with you about the problems they’ve had with goblins and a very annoying dragon? Maybe they’d energetically telling you about all their incredible online friends and Facebook groups. Perhaps they’d proudly dazzle you with their latest gaming strategies and tactics.

As a former gamer, I would probably enjoy the time. However, most people’s minds would begin flashing a nerd alert warning. Then you’d do your best to get out of there, so you could go home to fill your Big Berkey, or double-check your bug out bag.

 

We’re Negative Too

When you think about it, not only do we often appear weird, but we talk about some very negative things. Now, while we may accept disastrous, end of the world events as simple facts, others don’t necessarily see it the same way. They see a major calamity as something that is dark, menacing, and worthy of their fear.

Next, take their fear of the topic and combine that with us, who want to inform others about preparedness. Not only do we talk to them about it by citing reasons to be prepared, such as Hurricane Florence, but many of us do even more. We text them with the latest preparedness news. Then we forward chain emails about how something bad is headed our way. We repost graphics on social media, and on and on and on.

Basically, we end up sounding like Chicken Little. For example, think about listening to or watching Alex Jones. If you take a step back and watch Alex Jones with an objective mindset, what will you see? Will you see someone who is positive and uplifting, or will you see someone who is screaming, negative, and depressing to many? If you can picture that in your mind, then you should be able to picture how non-preppers view you when talking the doom and gloom we talk about.

After a while, if you continually go back to talking about the latest disaster, or other preparedness related information, people will begin to avoid you because they'll wonder are preppers crazy. They’ll stop reading your emails and social media posts. Maybe they’ll avoid you in person. Plus, they’ll probably tell others you’re crazy, over the top prepper, and put them off when it comes to you too.

Flip the Script

Now, let’s flip that script. Suppose that you’re over at a friend’s house for some sort of function. While you’re there, the topic of a recent disaster comes up and you, in a very well-meaning and informative manner begin telling everyone why they need a well-stocked pantry, a cache of firearms, a collection of heirloom seeds, an EDC kit, bug out bags for the entire family, how FEMA camps will become prisons, and the difference between wolves, sheepdogs, and sheep.

Odds are, most people will have their nerd alerts siren blaring in their head. In this case, though, it will be the OMG, it’s a crazy prepper alert that will be sounding off like crazy. When that happens, we probably just lost another convert to the preparedness ranks, and instead helped entrench someone further into their normalcy bias.

So, remember, how you approach someone about preparedness matters. Coming off sounding like a preparedness minded Dungeons and Dragons addict doesn’t do you or preparedness any favors. It certainly doesn't help in answering the question are preppers crazy?

The Media Doesn’t Do Us Any Favors

Alright, we’re going to do a quick survey. Raise your hand if you’ve ever watched an episode of “Doomsday Preppers.” Now, if you’ve watched every episode, please put your hand down. I’m going to venture a guess that there are few if any hands still up. I know when I watched a few episodes, I was thinking, you’ve got to be kidding me.”

Hey, I hope “Doomsday Preppers” helped convince some to become better prepared. Unfortunately, as with any reality-based TV show, many of the people on the show were just over the top. If you think the same, then imagine what non-preppers feel about many of us. I believe if someone is not into preparedness, they look at us as if we could have starred on “Doomsday Preppers.”

Next, think about the impact the news media has on the preparedness community. So, while the government is telling us to have three-days of food on hand, the news media calls us hoarders for doing that and more. Non-Prepper's categorize us as tinfoil hat-wearing crazies.

Commentators and others say we shouldn’t need firearms. We get asked why do we prepare if the government will come and save us, and the list goes on. In short, the media uses preppers as fodder to help push their narratives, and in so doing promotes us as crazy, paranoid, and dangerous.

 

Lastly…

Never forget, you’re just one prep away.

If you have any other thoughts or questions about Are Preppers Crazy? (Why People Think Preppers are Crazy), please leave a comment below.

Stay safe, secure and prepared,

Brian-Duff-Mind4Survival

 

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4 Comments

  1. Marilyn Laux on January 14, 2019 at 2:33 am

    What happens if you’re elderly and can’t evacuate. I used to evacuate for hurricanes when I lived on the coast. As you well know nursing homes have been hard hit by power outages, flooding, etc. and the infirmed can’t really flee. How does one evacuate if they don’t drive, can’t afford a car, etc? I’m always prepared with food and water for at least a week and can cook over open fire. My challenge would be keeping warm should a disaster happen in winter although I have many quilts and warm clothing. I grew up in an era of farming and make do with what you have, but at 79 I’m too old for keeping chickens, or a milk cow. I do have shelf milk, crus of, flour, cornmeal for bread making, which I know how to cook in a skillet over an open fire. I can forage and dandelions make a good salad or cooked if one knows how and also for tea plus it’s healthy.

    • Brian Duff on January 15, 2019 at 9:07 am

      Thanks, for your question Marilyn. I responded by using your question as the topic of this podcast episode: mind4survival.com/75

      • Michael on March 24, 2019 at 5:52 am

        So how do you convey to those, particularly the ones you care about, to prepping? I’ve tried the old remember the ice storm of 95 approach and all I got was stories of how they handled it or friends issues then. I even tried to use those stories for example what if that were to happen again, but, lasted for a week or longer? I usually got deadpan looks or comments such as well I guess were all screwed. Very very frustrating!

        • Brian Duff on April 7, 2019 at 4:11 pm

          Have you tried to gradually, over time, use stories of emergencies and disasters in the news to help make your points? With that, I do not mean to drive your points home like a stake into the heart of a vampire. Making a point means taking a small action, or series of small actions, that over time will help raise your preparedness and impart preparedness lessons on your family? Sometimes, if done right, you can turn people into preppers who would otherwise be against it. Just remember, subtleness is key.

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