I was conversing with my buddy, Bev, when we got on the subject of whether or not the prepping movement has come to an end. That is, are all of the people who have or will “wake up” already here and there will be no more OR is this just the beginning?
That was a “hey, wait a minute moment” for me. After all, I’m knee-deep in the prepper movement and it’s difficult for me to believe that prepping has peaked and will be coming to an end soon. Even more so, I’m a blog owner and I’m interested in growing my site, which I can’t do if people are no longer interested in what I have to offer!
Let’s look at some basic facts of life. Any statistics or math professor will tell you that many things in life follow a bell curve. Technically, a bell curve represents a normal distribution function. It basically says that there will be a natural distribution in the measurement (or performance) of whatever is being tested with the majority of those tested being average and only few being outliers and some in between. Think about students grades or the heights of elementary school kids and you’ll get the idea.
A bell curve can also be used to model other things in life, such as the life-cycle of something. In general, whatever is being measured starts small, grows, comes to a peak, declines, and eventually ends. This could a person’s life, viral video, the growth and decline of a company or nation, or–dare I say–the prepping movement.
When did it start?
Before we can determine where we are we must first determine where we’ve been. A simple keystroke or two and we’re at Wikipedia looking at the Survivalism page. Though I feel there’s a bit of a distinction between survivalists and preppers (as Wikipedia lumps them together) and even homesteaders–including different connotations from the use of these words–they’re roughly the same thing for the purposes of this discussion. As I’m too young to know any better, I’ll have to trust Wikipedia when they say the movement started in the 60′s as a result of a worry over inflation (sound familiar?) and nuclear exchange.
When did it grow?
We might suggest that the movement began to grow in the 70′s amid the oil crisis and the resultant inflation. It really began to take shape with voices such as Kurt Saxon and Mel Tappan. The movement continued to hold it’s ground, if you will, in the 80′s due to worries of an arms race with the Soviet Union.
An interesting sidebar to note from the Wikipedia page is the claim that the 80′s “…marked a shift in emphasis in preparations made by survivalists away from economic collapse, famine, and energy shortages—which were concerns in the 1970s—to nuclear war.” I recognize that the concern shifted but I can’t imagine the strategy changed much.
Anyway, unlike a true bell curve, however, it seems the prepper movement had a lull during most of the 90′s economic boom but renewed again due to Y2K concerns and gained a huge “shot in the arm” as a result of the attacks of 9/11; I know I was one of those who began paying attention after that tragedy.
So, the question is, where on this bell curve are we?
Let me suggest that yet another push up in momentum has occurred in recent years as more and more people–knowingly or otherwise–sense that our way of life is unsustainable and the neverending printing press cannot be good for our future. I’m sure there are people far smarter than I who can apply mathematical formulas to the prepper equation and come up with a good idea of where we are. I cannot.
What I can do is observe. Obviously, it’s difficult to see the forest for the trees at times, and so it’s difficult to say whether we’ve peaked or are still ramping up… or, perhaps, even in decline. I can say that when the mainstream media begins to pick up on the subject there are likely two outcomes: it’s either ready to explode or it’s a dead subject. Though biased, I’m of the camp that the movement is “ready to explode,” especially as evidenced by the popularity of shows such as Doomsday Preppers. Sure, they’re not yet popular because people want to learn but, rather, because they’re ARE entertaining. Regardless, the fact that prepping is even shown on television is heartening. I’m further emboldened by the fact that we’re NOT in times of economic prosperity. That’s not to say I want bad times but people start to reconsider (a little) how they act when times are tough.
On the other hand, so long as the government continues to give away handouts like it’s Halloween candy, the Fed continues to print money literally out of thin air, and there’s a general sense that “I’m entitled” and that society will be today as it was yesterday… I’m not holding my breath that they’ll be coming in droves.
One last point to consider
I do want to point out that it wasn’t but a few generations ago that people were far more self-reliant than we are today. People actually did store food, grow their own food, repair equipment, raise livestock, collect rainwater (or dig wells), grew herbs for medicine, and so much more. While we like to believe that the progress of society is always a good thing–and in many cases it is–this drastic change in lifestyle may not have been a good idea for true long term sustainability.
Ultimately, the question is this: is prepping a simply movement or is it really a return to our roots?