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12/7/12

Anyone else sick of the prepper label?

Before there were preppers, there were survivalists. Survivalist came into common usage in the 70s on into the 80s. Eventually, survivalists came to be associated with threatening anti-establishment types who wore camo, ran around with evil black guns and blew stuff up. Scary stuff to the average person.

So prepper came into the vernacular - I'm not sure who coined it, but it became the warmer, friendlier term for someone who put back food, water, medical supplies, and of course guns'n'ammo. But maybe without the camo and some of the extreme political views. Less scary to the average person, or at least a fresh start.

"Prepper" of course now has all of it's own new negative stigma associated with it. See the NatGeo TV show Doomsday Preppers. People made to look like loons. Today, if the average person knows what a prepper is, they're probably thinking the overweight, delusional white folks with guns they saw on cable. Yay! Big step up! Really, watch a couple episodes and tell me if you still want to be associated with the label.

And, if they haven't seen the NatGeo show, prepper is not a particularly clear label for the uninitiated. A prepper is what - one who preps? Preps for what? Going to college? Going on a cruise? Really, I've gotten feedback from average every day people who are interested in learning more but are confused by what the heck "prepping" is and what "preppers" are.

Why the confusion? Prepper is not a real word. Look it up in the dictionary - it's not there! It's a lame made up word. Seriously, it's quite lame sounding--prepper ranks up there with "Trekkie" and "Twihard". Action hero cool it will never be.

So, while I have used the prepper label occasionally in the past, it's not been with a lot of fondness for it. More like a feeling of "man, am I compromising in terms of being politically correct?". If you're really bored and want to go back and check, you'll see I usually associate prepper with survivalist or survival.

But, "prepper" been the common descriptor for what we do for the past several years, so I've used it, despite my mild distaste for it.

Screw that. I'm done with it.

Forget about political correctness or latent memories from the 80s--I'm a survivalist, not a prepper. If that gives liberals panic attacks, then oh well.

Survivalist is descriptive of what we do - a survivalist is one who survives. Pretty clear--no questions asked.

Survivalist is also actually a real word. It's even in the dictionary. See! Here's the copy paste:

Definition of SURVIVALIST

: a person who advocates or practices survivalismespecially: one who has prepared to survive in the anarchy of an anticipated breakdown of society
Hmm, that sounds a lot like what we do, doesn't it?

So, I'm done with "prepper"--you won't find me using it around here, and I encourage you to evaluate whether you think it's a label that suits you.

Me? I am a survivalist and proud of it. How about you?

36 comments :

  1. Preppers are to survivalists as "Christian Identity" are to the Nazi's (Not advocating for, or against, that philosophy it is just the best example that comes to mind). It is a label that really means the same thing but is less threatening to people.

    We could debate if there are actual differences between 'preppers' and survivalists but it is pretty arbitrary anyway. If calling their self a prepper makes somebody feel better about preparing then go for it.

    Personally I am a survivalist. I do however refer to some of my various survivalist related stuff as preps. That makes sense to me as a name for various stored stuff that is a byproduct of survivalism.

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    1. Agreed. And I think prepper has gone from being non-threatening to having its own less-than-ideal meaning attached to it.

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  2. I don't find the prepper label offense or misconstrued, personally. While I agree it can be a little vague (college prep v. end of the world), most individuals I know equate it to the correct meaning instantaneously.

    Although I'm curious now-- do you like Doomsday Preppers or no? I don't have cable and I haven't had a chance to find it on Amazon. Is it worth it (for entertainment and/or educational purposes)?

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    1. No, I'm not a fan of Doomsday Preppers. I gave it every opportunity, but at the end of the day, I feel like the producers went the extra mile to make the featured individuals seem like whackos (and many of them frankly were). It's a bit of a train wreck.

      I haven't seen much of the newest season that they've done, so the producers may have changed things up substantially, but the little bits that I've seen have suggested that's not the case.

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    2. I've been enjoying Independence USA on The Blaze Network. It's one family throughout and covers the basics of food, arms, shelter and barter. You could watch all the back episodes during the 14 day trial and decide. For me, the $10/mo is well worth it.

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  3. SURVIVALIST = guy who gets dropped off in the woods and eats insects until someone rescues him

    PREPPER = someone who is preparing to survive a shtf scenario without the help of most others

    That is what is portrayed in tv shows and what most average folks would probably think of the terms today, at the end of 2012.

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    1. Sorry, disagree with you there, and not what I've seen in my experiences talking with neophytes and the unitiatied, nor what the dictionary or say Wikipedia would say.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivalist

      They're a label for the same thing.

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  4. If your not giving liberals panic attacks then your doing something wrong.

    And I agree--"prepper" has always given a wussy vibe to me. Isn't Prepper Pots Iron Man's girl friend? Survivalist is way more accurate and sounds way cooler and less nerdy.

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    1. > If your not giving liberals panic attacks then your doing something wrong.

      Amen that! ;-)

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  5. What I am Prepping for and as a way to survive is to be self-reliant. Our forebearers WERE survuvalist out of neccesity and the way they did it was to become self-reliant. I want to get to the point I am able to provide for my every need and not depend on anyone or anything else for what I need to survive.

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  6. Since I was a survivalist before I was a prepper hey I don't care.

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  7. Just a guy who wants to be able to care for him self and his family and friends in a variety of plausible scenarios. One who wants to eat healthier foods, so he gardens. One that knows when seconds count, the police are minutes away, so he has firearms and the skills necessary to use them correctly. One that knows a natural disaster and/or social unrest will make it difficult to resupply food/water/hygiene items, so he has extra squirreled away just in case (because I won't be one of those people whining that I have no heat/power/food/water after a storm that I knew was coming, my disasters come with little/no warning).

    In other words, responsible. One who realizes that it is MY responsibility to take care of myself, NOT the government's job.

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    1. Totally agree!

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    2. I'll join the 'hallelujah chorus' to this one! PREEEE-cisely!

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    3. Agree here too. What is common sense responsibility to us (and our forebearers) is extreme behavior to many today. Sad :(

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  8. "It is interesting to notice how some minds seem almost to create themselves, springing up under every disadvantage, and working their solitary but irresistible way through a thousand obstacles."
    Washington Irving

    Brother Wolf, I like "Perserverists"

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    1. I like it!

      There've been people with the drive and resourcefulness to get through tough times since the dawn of man.

      Nothing "new" here - it's just become sadly out of the norm. Dependence on the Nanny State and the nice cushy modern world is just too easy!

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  9. I'd say we should just call ourselves "realists".
    As opposed to those living in the bubble of their momentary safety fantasies...
    And this is a dictionary word too ;-)

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  10. From now on, I am to be addressed as a contingency-ist.

    Words are moving targets; they always have been and they always will be. Call yourself whatever you like, but don't bother appealing to a dictionary as though it were binding.

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  11. While we're at it, can we get rid of this whole zombie obsession thing? I used to be a huge fan of zombie movies and stuff like that, but now it is more of some kind of way to make survivalists seem like wacko cartoon characters. Don't get me wrong, I have every version of Dawn of the Dead that I can find, but I'm not a subscriber to the pop culture upheaval of the undead in the past 3 years. It's time to move on. I will still watch The Walking Dead, but I am not a comic book character that some of these mall ninjas out there think they are. I'm a 38 year old man with a regular job who wants to keep his family safe in the face of an unforeseen disaster. I have to remember to put my Walking Dead action figures on Ebay later. I'll use to money to buy some real world survival gear. How about bottled water??

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  12. Enough of us remember our grandparents' storing food, supplies, even money, "for a rain day", since they had *survived* the Great Depression, and didn't want to live thru those types of hardships (by going without) ever again! This is what I compare the "modern" trend of survivalism to, to make it easier to explain and relate to (and take away the GovMedia brainwashing), for most folks.

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  13. I think that eventually it will come full circle kind of like the label hacker. It was a bad thing associated with crime and now with the maker movement it seems to be be regaining legitimacy. I think that the term prepper will undergo the same publicity issues until such time as the public understands it better.

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  14. The 2nd season of "Doomsday Preppers" has become just like all other TV "reality" shows. Too much B.S. When asked about their defensive capabilities one group proudly replied,"...we're psyco..."! Both seasons of the show often have people standing with rifles at port arms, with that crazed far-away look in their eyes, like they are literally on guard duty. So i would have to assume that they encourage people to be extreme for the sake of higher ratings. I think this show has run it's course for giving anyone fresh ideas on how to prepare ourselves.
    In our neck of the woods we had alot of press in the 80's with a State trooper killed and another wounded by a camo-wearing, neo-nazi "survivalist". Didn't help that we had the CSA compound in AR fairly close by. I'll agree with you on the negative images brought to mind by the term "survivalist". This is a shame because I'm just trying to do what I can to ensure my family and friends "survive".

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  15. My issue with "survivalist" is exactly that connection with survival. Animals survive, my intention is to be prepared to LIVE on after TSHTF. While society in general may collapse, and many people will revert to a survival mode, my feeling is that we prepare so that we can avoid becoming part of the mindless horde, looking for something to eat and somewhere to sleep. So I guess I prefer Prepper, I'm from the North East so it doesn't take many winters before everyone knows what it is like to be stranded without power for at least a few hours, if not days, or weeks.

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    1. Long-term survival is not just about scraping by, it's about establishing the best possible circumstances for yourself and for your tribe. Under those circumstances, your and yours will have the best change of surviving and thriving.

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  16. I've been a 'survivalist' since I was a child going hunting with step-dad, grandpa & uncle. My husband is a Marine Corps Vietnam vet as well as the child of Alaskan Homesteaders...how's that for a "survivalist" mindset? We prepare for several contingencies - Yellowstone blowing being the most severe & economic collapse being the 'least' severe (in my opinion). Mix in a bit of concern for the whole "pandemic" possibility & an attitude of "expect the worst, hope for the best & always be prepared" & you've got ..... a survivalist!

    A "prepper" is someone on a TV show. I'm a tad too interested in discretion to go on a TV show, so I won't call myself a "prepper". In conversations with non-survivalists, I simply ask them if they are ready for any variation of the "Zombie Apocalypse"...that's light-hearted enough to NOT scare them & serious enough to make them think...which is my sole intention - making them THINK a moment. It always saddens me, however, when the response I get from folks with dependents is "If it's my time, then it's my time...I'll probably just lay down & ponder the afterlife..."...I wonder where their parental instincts went....& why...

    As for getting past the whole 'mere survival' idea, I look at it this way - those GOOD at survival will have time to relax & any sociologist can tell you that leisure time is what's necessary for culture to grow & flourish. Without leisure time, you don't have poetry, music, art or R&D...without those, a culture doesn't grow/improve. So...practice survival until you're really GOOD at it...& then, while everyone else is 'hoarding' (uh-oh! another TV show! >_<) you'll have time to grow your culture!

    Survivalist > prepper > (food)hoarder > victim > sheeple

    ~K

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  17. Husband was crushed by machine meant to lift 2000 pound bales of plastic onto another machine. We survived because we prepped, oops, prepared for hard times by eating out of our stockpile and using money we had saved. He's better now. We survived, we prepped, it's all cool. Be calm and can something in a jar. That's what I'm going to do.

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  18. Why don't we just call ourselves Americans? Americans have been preparing and surviving since they got here. What early Americans didn't know they learned through trial and error and spent their days planting, hunting and preparing for winter or hard times. They were self-reliant but even more so self-aware. Americans knew that their labors would save their lives. They knew that there was a close relationship with nature and one's environment. They knew that everything in the land or from animals was useful and had a purpose. We only have to look back to the early 20th century to see that Americans still had a close tie with the earth and relied on themselves and their skills to survive and thrive. Europe has not known or seen that for centuries. Look at the Kilcher family living in Alaska. That is basically it. Work all spring, summer and fall (which in total lasts about 4 to 5 months in Alaska) to make it through the winter. Make it through the winter and start all over again.

    We have essentially detached ourselves from nature and our environment in trade for convenience, technological advancements and living and working in large cities. All we (survivalist, preppers, contingency-ist) are doing is carrying on the time-tested traditions and practices of our forefathers. It worked for them and saved their lives and it will work for us and save ours. Whether a spouse injured and unable to work for months, a major natural disaster or a sever world changing event. Because history has taught us that things ALWAYS go wrong. Sometimes personally, sometimes locally, sometimes regionally and every once in a bad while something globally.

    Call me whatever you want, but I am and will always be an American. Self-reliant, self-aware, a student of history, prepared, ready and willing to do whatever is necessary to look after, protect and provide for my family.

    -DB

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    1. How about because you are not all Americans. We are scattered around the globe

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  19. DB couldn't have said it any better

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  20. Hello all,

    Interesting article and well written. Personally, I have no problem with whatever label the powers that be choose to call us. A quick visit to the FEMA website shows us that they (FEMA) suggest that all American citizens be prepared for a catastrophe, indeed they suggest keeping a limited supply of water and canned goods available. Now, having lived in South Florida for 40 years I can agree with them. I was in Miami for hurricane Andrew and many other catastrophic storms before and after and I have lived under martial law: during these times "law and order" were negligible...In short there was no police to be found, we initiated neighborhood patrols at night, and were prepared to defend our lives and families. We were without the ability to purchase vital supplies for at least two weeks in some cases. Hence, many people did without. Many others had to defend themselves from looters and groups of sundry people. So, you better be prepared for trouble, if you live long enough you will be involved in some type of catastrophic event: be it earth quake, tornado or severe storm or any scenario. I am not a survivalist or a prepper, no, I just have common sense. Don't get scared, get prepared!

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  21. I have always understood the term prepper to be a kinder, gentler form of survivalist which was a term that came to mean any crazed armed loonie who happened to being preparing for the end of the world (Teotwawki had not been coined back in the day as an acronym). I had dabbled on the outskirts of the survivalist movement back in the late 70′s and early 80′s and found most were pretty stable individuals but some fit the stereotype. Things haven’t changed since I moved back into prepping a year or so ago … the journey in between is not germane to the discussion.

    Personally, I don’t need a label as I consider myself a fairly ordinary man just trying to look out for his family. You’ll never see me on television. The problem with the term ordinary is that it brings to mind sheeple and I definitely don’t fit that camp.

    I don’t know that there is a better term than prepper. I am sure it will eventually have as much baggage as survivalist. I don’t have a suggestion for a new label although it would be cool to coin one, I thought maybe “anticipater” but it doesn’t seem to hit the target. So for now, I’ll go with prepper, for those who ask what that means I usually tell them to think survivalist without the crazy.

    I am sure there are as many loonies in the prepper group as there were in the survivalist movement. Having surfed various blogs they are all out there, the angry white male who is a hater, the mall ninjas, the head case who looks forward to Teotwawki so they can create their own empire, but most are just regular ordinary people who are planning for when times get hard (or very hard). There are those I would love to welcome into my community and those who would scare the crap out of me. However I digress.

    My vote is stick with prepper unless someone comes up with something else brilliant.

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  22. The other day I was meeting with my accountant. We talked about what was going on in the world. He has rural property and so do I. He asked me if I was a survivalist and I told him I was. It seemed strange since I had not heard the term in a while, but that is what I am, prepping is just part of it........

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