Doomsday Preppers: Are these people for real?

The National Geographic reality show, Doomsday Preppers, has sparked a lively controversy, with some touting “preppers” as gun-slinging lunatics spreading contempt for mankind. Is this show unveiling a dark, troubled community of extremists? Or is this outcry simply the result of good storytelling?

It’s no secret the network’s aim is to shock viewers. If these preppers were allowed to come across as balanced, sensible individuals…. well, where’s the show in that? No doubt wardrobe, set design, and creative editing play a major part in turning what I suspect are harmless hobbyists into paranoid freaks for a captive audience to mock and ridicule. How much of the extreme and sometimes absurd behavior can be attributed to the hyperbolic lens of the television camera, I can’t say. I don’t doubt there are people who take prepping too far, but for the most part, I think what we have in Doomsday Preppers is an entertaining television show, not a fair representation of the so-called “prepper” community.

Even if the controversy is unfounded, it brings to light a valid question, at what point does preparedness cross over into paranoia? It’s a fine line, a grey line. Who can say how many cans of beans, jugs of water, weapons or Band-Aids constitute a healthy, reasonable supply? Surely, in a crisis, having too much is a far better problem than having too little. The line, then, must be drawn based on individual circumstances and comfort level. Preparedness is empowering. Paranoia is debilitating. Maybe it’s not so grey after all.

The way I see it, the “doomsday” these people are supposed to be preparing for has no finite description and no pre-planned itinerary. It could be any one of a million possibilities and I’m not about to presume the foresight necessary to make adequate physical preparation for even one such event. But behind the reality tv, is reality. Natural disasters, political tension, and loss of employment are all very real threats that a person would be wise to plan for. Having medical provisions, food storage and a generous supply of water stocked away for such a time is not paranoia, it’s preparedness. Like a life insurance policy, you hope the time will never come to use it, but you put it in place anyway because in real life bad things happen. The good news is, with the availability of survival kits, bottled water, and long term food storage lasting as long as 25 years, it’s easy to be prepared without making yourself crazy. Prepping can be an every six months chore like washing the exterior windows, it doesn’t have to be an isolating lifestyle.

So watch Doomsday Preppers for its entertainment value and maybe to pick up a few ideas to implement in your own emergency preparedness plan (scaled down to real life proportions, of course), and when drawing your personal paranoid/prepared line, make sure to place it well before preparing for the end of life as we know it destroys your ability to appreciate life as we know it.

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