What Are Preppers Really Gearing Up For?

By: H. Davis

The idea of “prepping,” or gearing up to live without support from the government, has become really popular within the last decade. According to the New York Post, companies that cater to individuals who want to be self-reliant for things like food, water, and medical supplies have experienced an increase between 200 and 400 percent. Due to this drastic increase, prepper products and kits are now offered at places like Costco, Target, Wal-Mart, and even, Bed Bath & Beyond.

What these companies aren’t telling consumers, however, is what’s driving this growth. In other words, why are citizens gearing up for society’s downfall? Although there are countless speculations that revolve around terrorist attacks, American paranoia, and natural disaster, the answers are unclear since there is limited evidence to support these claims made by citizens.

A sociology professor from the University of Kent, by the name of Michael Millsdecided to help American citizens close this gap by gaining new knowledge. During his research, Mills went on a road trip throughout various states in the U.S. and discovered that preppers were actually motivated by nonstop media coverage. What kind of coverage? News that analyzes the dangers of natural disastersand encourage citizens to spend time getting ready for disasters. Whether that means finding ways to handle life’s financial emergenciesor finding ways to secure your home during a disaster, media sensationalism is –– the primary source of motivation according to Michael Mills.

The Public’s Perceptions

In the eyes of the public, a prepper is someone who spends time getting ready for a society that they believe will one day collapse. At this point, electronic devices, along with everything else we depend on, will all become unavailable. Generally speaking, preppers are individuals who can purify water, hunt their own food, and stop anyone who tries to invade their personal space for their own benefit during a post-apocalyptic era.

In reality, however, preppers don’t gear up for a collapsing society. Instead, they find ways to deal with a collapse of nearby services that might last for a few days or a few months. Another thing that’s important to remember is that when individuals prepare for disasters, they typically don’t prepare for a specific one. They prepare for all of them. To put it another way, someone who lives in an area that’s prone to disasters like hurricanes won’t only prepare for strong winds; they’ll also prepare for emergencies like floods and power outages as well, Since 2017 was a devastating year for hurricanes, the last thing preppers would want to be caught off guard by unexpected wind storms, and flash floods. On the other hand, if someone lives in an area that’s prone to disasters like earthquakes, then they might take different approaches to gear up for the violent shaking earthquakes can cause. That said, when preppers design a game plan, they usually create a plan that can get them through the first couple of months following the catastrophic event that took place.

What Factors Drive Preppers?

Disasters like earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and wildfires can happen at any time, and there are few places within the United States that have no natural disaster risks — not to mention the risk of terrorist attacks like mass shootings and disease outbreaks. So, what factors drive preppers to cover all these possibilities? Although some of the motivation comes from things like personal interest and hobbies, most of the motivation behind preppers actions comes from fear, which is caused by the media.

If you’ve ever watched the news, you’ll know that the media provides non-stop coverage of disasters and the aftermath. Events like Hurricane Katrina, the Ebola outbreak, and the problems surrounding mass shootings, for example, made it to almost every news station throughout the course of its time. This not only sparked fear within the public but also motivated some citizens to take action and start preparing for the worst.

Michael Mills concluded his research by stating that “prepping is a phenomenon” — one that is solely based off of the means of communication at a broader level. What does that mean? It means that preppers within the U.S. respond according to what the media puts out there. So, if the media spoke heavily about a subject like climate change, for instance, –– a subject that’s widespread and has heavily contested ramifications, according to the University of Nevada, Reno, then preppers will adjust their game plan accordingly. That way, they meet the safety needs recommended by the media.


Thanks for the read! Did I miss anything important? What are some other reasons preppers might spend so much gearing up for events? Feel free to leave a comment below.

H. Davis enjoys being active and finds any excuse to go outside and explore the outdoors. If you can’t catch him online, you might be able to catch him working out at the gym, or cheering on the Boise State Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at @Davis241. Thanks!

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