What Does It Mean to Be a Prepper?
By Robert Bellinir
If you are new to “prepping” or are trying to figure out what exactly it means to be a “prepper,” then this article is for you. It may be interesting for you to know that there are differing views of what constitutes a prepper.
Wikipedia defines “preppers” as “a movement of individuals or groups (called survivalists or preppers) who are actively preparing for emergencies, as well as, possible disruptions in social or political order, on scales ranging from local to international.” A prepper is not the same as a Survivalist (even though Wikipedia makes this mistake). A survivalist typically focuses on learning primitive and other outdoors skills and has little focus on actually stocking up on supplies and building an extensive repository of everything necessary to survive. Whereas survivalists prepare and learn to live off the land, preppers prepare to maintain their current lifestyle, as much as possible. While they are not synonymous, many preppers are also survivalists and are very adept at living off the land. Likewise, many survivalists are preppers and store resources to be able to sustain their standard of living.
The prepper movement has really evolved throughout the last three decades. Prior to Y2K, Preppers focused on Cold War concerns and how to survive a potential nuclear war. Preppers used the term “survivalist” to describe themselves. Areas of focus included underground bunkers, food storage and water purification activities. Then, in the late 1990s, there was a resurgence of interest in preparedness stemming from fears that computer systems would fail and society would collapse due to the “Y2K Bug”. While it turned out that the Y2K bug had no bite, the next would-be catastrophe was the millennium, where certain groups believed the end of the world would occur. The time leading up to the turn of the century saw a huge amount of “mainstream” people rushing out to purchase a year’s supply of food, fuel and generators.
From a modern prepper’s perspective, Y2K ended up being a mainstream media marketing gaff, which led millions of people to “be prepared”, then moving on when nothing happened. The movement once again picked up steam from numerous terrorist attacks, including 911 and the bombings in London, Madrid, and Bali (among other places). These events led the American public to question such things as personal readiness and self reliance. Preparedness was further fueled by domestic natural disasters, such as Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and international disasters, including earthquakes and tsunamis in Indonesia, Chile and Japan. The prepper movement gained considerable momentum without having a particular date in mind (unlike Y2K), which led to many people recognizing a need to change their lives to be more prepared and self reliant.
Most recently, the prepper lifestyle was spurred on by fears of the 2012 Mayan prophesies of an apocalyptic nature. The advent of prepper television shows and survival-oriented movies has also helped to bring preparedness and self-reliance into the mainstream media and to the forefront of societal consciousness once again. While it is still considered “fringe” by many, even the U.S. Government is actively promoting preparedness through programs like Ready.gov and many states are developing specific readiness programs.
Modern preppers have strong concerns about natural and man-made disasters, as well as a major concern about the economic stability of the United States. Preppers also have a large concern about other countries attacking the United States through means such as an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) and nuclear attacks.
Prepping these days is most often described as a lifestyle and a way of thinking that facilitates the process of becoming self-reliant through increased personal responsibility. If you have, or are gaining, a personal belief that it is up to you to provide for you and your family in difficult times – then you are on the path to becoming a prepper!
Perhaps the unofficial motto for the prepper movement says it all – “Ready for Anything.”