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Published On: Wed, Dec 17th, 2014

Media Misconceptions: Why Preppers and Survivalists Are Getting a Bad Rap

The media these days loves a good smear campaign, and some people almost seem like they deserve it. Public perception of “survivalists” is generally negative, with most people believing that those who stockpile ammunition, canned food, have electric backup generators, and hide “bug-out bags” are wild-eyed nut cases. But, is this view justified? Certainly, some are, like the Pennsylvania survivalist shooter.

Preppers: a litte nuts or always looking ahead? screenshot WoodTV Channel 8 video

Preppers: a litte nuts or always looking ahead?
screenshot WoodTV Channel 8 video

Historical View Of “Preppers”

Survivalism is older than what the news media might have you believe. Back in the 1800s, for example, most people were survivalists, in the truest sense of the word. They had to prepare for the winter months every summer by stockpiling food. Because winter killed everything, crops couldn’t really be grown (not in any real practical sense) when the frost hit.

Livestock, and its food, also had to be stored well in advance, to make sure there was enough to feed them through the spring. Many people in the colonies either owned firearms or knew someone that did. It was just a normal part of life – especially if you lived in more rural areas and were a white, protestant, male.

In that sense, being a “prepper” or “survivalist” was equal to being a normal person. This perception changed over time, however, as society became more civilized and technology advanced, making survivalism less important for the average American.

Why Survivalists Get a Bad Reputation

Some of the worst criminals are labeled survivalists, and they include Eric Robert Rudolph, Troy James Knapp, and the Unibomber, Ted Kaczynski. These people carry the stigma of being “loners” and outliers in society. More recently, the Pennsylvania sharp-shooter, Eric Matthew,  that took out cops in a “hitman” style fashion was billed as a survivalist. He stockpiled food, learned how to be self-sufficient, and was excellent with both short and long-range firearms.

It’s easy to see how the media could paint a negative picture using these types of people as examples.

But, it’s also uncommon to see survivalists in today’s society because we have a lot of creature comforts. We don’t, by and large, hunt for our food anymore. We have grocery stores where we shop. We don’t need guns strapped to our hips, unless we live in a dangerous part of town, because crime rates have been steadily falling in the U.S. for decades.

In that context, survivalists seem “out there.”

What Is Real Survivalism Like?

To contrast the dark picture of survivalists are heroes like Ray Mears, “Survivorman” Les Stroud. and Mykel Hawke. These people show us what it really means to be a survivor. It takes a practiced skill in hunting and gathering, practical self-defense techniques for especially dangerous situations, the knowledge of how to construct a usable shelter in the wild, and how to develop a heightened sense of awareness.

Contrary to what many believe, preppers or survivalists aren’t overly fixated on any one disaster that will wipe out the human race – a so-called “armageddon event.”

Instead, they are focused on short-term emergency situations that will eventually be resolved, but for which there is no immediate hope for rescue or where local law enforcement and rescue is incapable of responding in a reasonable amount of time.

Indeed, most people are ill-equipped to deal with long-term catastrophic social unrest. And, in fact, almost no human alive today can live in a perpetual state of emergency.

Still, almost everyone would benefit from a basic understanding of how to make or grow one’s own food, how to repair clothing, and how to build and secure a shelter.

According to survival website Food4Patriots review, one of the easiest ways to get started is to purchase food kits, along with a potable source of water.

Food kits are essentially dehydrated foods with an extended shelf life. Unlike military MREs, however, survivalist foods need to be shelf-stable for 10 years or more (ideally). This will eliminate the need to rotate foods or throw away expensive preparations.

Potable water is another thing that’s hard to come by when utility services are interrupted even for a day.

That’s why products, like Seychelle’s water filters and the Life Straw, are so amazing. They turn any non-potable water into something that’s drinkable.

Some filters will even filter out radiological material, making even nuclear waste-contaminated water, safe to drink.

Since you cannot live but a few days without water, and no more than maybe a week or two without a consistent food supply, these two things are what you want to focus on first in your survival kit – for anything from earthquakes to floods to riots in the streets.

At the end of the day, you don’t need to prepare for doomsday. You just need to prepare for a rainy one.

Guest Author :

Allen Baler is a Partner at 4Patriots LLC, a Tennessee based small business that provides products to help people be more self-reliant and more independent. Allen founded the company in 2008 after 14 years as a corporate executive leading profitable business for the Easton Press and the Danbury Mint. He graduated with honors from Harvard University and resides in Nashville with his wife and 3 daughters.

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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