Doomsday Preppers: I ain’t laughing no more.
Warning: Long entry and rant ahead.
A few days ago, I wrote about NatGeo’s Doomsday Preppers show. Like I mentioned in that entry, instead of spending my time laughing, I was actually 1) impressed with one family’s ecofriendly and sustainable lifestyle, and 2) did learn something new. So far, I’ve genuinely enjoyed and learnt something valuable from my two episodes of the show.
Maybe it’s NatGeo’s TV formatting; they show you the genuinely educational and harmless ones first, and then go downhill from there. Increase the level of insanity by one notch each episode to make sure we keep watching.
So it was with the fire crackling in Australia winter night and a mug of hot chocolate to warm my cold hands, I snuggled into my blanket to watch pre-recorded episode 3, “Back to the Stone Age”. I was looking forward to a night of chuckling at paranoia and maybe learn something valuable from the more sustainable preppers.
I did genuinely like and learn from Jules Dervaes’s family. They grow their own food, and the fresh, crisp, healthy looking vegetables got me salivating. Their garden is so plentiful that they even end up with giant squashes. I was drooling! They also showed how discarded frying oil from fast food joints can be used as biodiesel. Now, these are up my alley. I like gardening and the idea of freshly picked vegetables off my backyard, and ecofriendly alternatives to our current lifestyle.
Everybody else seems looking to be dependent on government, dependent on corporations, dependent on the banks, dependent on others. But we are providing for ourselves and living a self-sustaining life here. (Jules Dervaes)
As for the rest?
I try to be as objective in my assessment of anything. That’s my mother’s upbringing coming to surface. See an argument from every point of view without being dismissive and derisive. Last night it was very hard to be objective. More than anything, I was not expecting to feel rage.
Tim Ralston, the Crovel creator
The good: Resourcefulness in creating a multipurpose hybrid of crowbar and shovel, the Crovel. His survivalist endeavor—I think it’s good to be prepared and have a ‘survivalist’ mentality whatever the situation is.
As a prepper, the most important tool is your mind. We have a survivor’s mindset. Things like this, you can persevere, you can push through. (Tim Ralston)
- He mentioned he has only started prepping 2 years ago. So within these 2 short years, he estimated that he spends $20,000 to $30,000 on prepping and supplies—you fugging kidding me, right? Starving children in third world countries would like to thank your fat ass. Let’s forget about third world countries…starving children in YOUR country would like to thank you.
- Shopping around for shipping containers to build an underground bunker for his family—a shipping container is cheap enough, retailing at $2500. Finding out how cheap shipping containers are is what started me on a rage. It was more of a generalized rage instead of to Tim personally. Why aren’t they people out there ACTIVELY investigating the use of shipping containers as a sustainable short-term housing solution for displaced people? I know I am now!
- When he lose his thumb on the show because a gun misfired. A chill went up me and I thought “oh my God, that could have been any one of his sons!”. And right after that he went “Thank God it wasn’t my sons.” I wanted to jump into the TV and strangle him.
You know, firearms are not the only way to protect yourself. I see his sons, and while they’re sweet looking, good and polite boys, they’re also ‘weak’ looking boys. I know this sounds unfair but I’m not making a personal attack on these boys in any way. In fact, my assessment might even be wrong, there’s not much you can observe on a 15 minutes segments. I’m not against American’s constitutional rights to bear arms, but there would be times where guns are inaccessible or you lose it while in combat etc etc and then when it comes down to hand-to-hand combat…then what? I sincerely hope these kids know otherbasic survival skills, other than pointing a firearm and pulling a trigger.
Jason Charles, The Firefighter
The good: He’s a firefighter so he is fit, unlike a lot of preppers I see on the show. He is learning Krav Maga, that’s cool. He lives in New York…well, I might be stereotyping but from what I heard about NY, I think it is a pretty scary place so preparedness for a worst case scenario is valid. He is in the process of training his kids to get out of the way in an efficient manner when there are intruders in the house. Good idea, it’s much better than having panicky kids running around screaming. And when you’re a firefighter IN NY and have witnessed firsthand the chaos of 9/11, it’s fully understandable why this sort of paranoia happens.
The bad: On a drill scene, he showed how he will be dealing with intruders. One of their methods is to throw a boxful of broken glass on the front door to deter intruders. Ok, sorta valid. But considering the fact that intruders INTRUDE, which means they probably won’t be knocking on your front door to politely ask permission to intrude. What if intruder(s) enter through the windows and your family had to make a run to the door? And bearing in mind, the intruder(s) came from outside so they’d be wearing shoes, while you and your family has been inside your own home and probably be wearing fuzzy bunny slippers. Shoes vs Bunny Slippers: which ones do you think will stand up to shards of broken glasses?
Pat Brabble, the Churchgoing Southern Gentleman
The good: The couple are staunch Christians who are not drinkers, but they’re stocking up on alcohol as a barter-able goods. Smart and very valid, even more so if you’re faced with a hoard of Australians. Beers are currency here in Australia (lol).
- Spending approximately $10,000 on food and supplies that is just sitting there…
- …stashed in a ‘secret location in his property’. In Brabblelish, ‘secret location’ translates to ‘a valid reason to broadcast this location on NatGeo to the rest of the world’.
- He opened his weapon stash and there are 60 to 70 weapons in there. Oh. Dear.
- Testing Molotov cocktails. What a waste of alcohol!
When it comes down to it, aside from preppers who grow their own food, these preppers are living an unsustainable lifestyle. It’s probably due to constraints such as time and that they’re buying the food they’re putting aside.
To be fair, 15 minutes per preppers is a short time to know more about them and their other prepping methods, and NatGeo is probably only showing the ‘crazy’ angles in the name of good TV. Showing a couple of staunch Baptist cooking and canning food is probably not as exciting as showing them showing us their weapon stash.
It’s not even the stashing of weapons that bothers me the most. What bothers me the most is the stashing thousand of dollars worth of food that will last more than 5-10 years. I can’t help but feel how selfish some of these preppers are, especially when they are prepping only for themselves.
It’s admirable and very understandable that you’d want to preserve the lifestyle you and your family are accustomed to. It’s even more admirable when you engage your community in preparedness endeavour. But there is a point where all of it becomes ridiculous, especially when you’re being ‘elitist’ about it. When some of those preppers clearlyhave the underlying tones of “we prep, and when doomsday comes we’re going to point at the unprepared and go ‘ha ha, told ya!’ and gloat in our preparedness, while we disappear into this spiderhole”.
Here’s a reality: for us living in first world country, doomsday is yet to come BUT there are places in this world where doomsday is reality. It may even be currently occurring. Are we THAT peaceful that we get to the point of boredom that we have to create worst case scenarios in our head and hoard for it? Are we that scared of our own weakness that we go to extreme lengths in the worst case that our luxuries and comforts (electricity, hot running water, internet) be taken away from us? Do we acknowledge that we forget that our luxuries and comforts are JUST THAT, luxuries and comfort?
Our basic needs: shelter, food, water, fire. We forget how to be content with having these; it’s human nature to want more than we ever need, to always measure yourself against another and to constantly improve our already ‘okay’ livelihood. Society idolises success and excess. We buy and prepare more food than we need, gorge ourselves to obesity and throw away that which we cannot stuff into our already overfull belly without a second though. While others can only hope to eat the amount of food we throw away. While others are used to living without electricity, running hot water, internet…
Just look at our own backyard and I’m sure you can find someone who has fallen on hard times. So, do I stash years’ worth of food in my secret location, or do I extend a helping hand to this person in need first?
What is wrong with our first world society, seriously?