The case used to be that the guy living several houses down from you bringing down property values by stockpiling guns, gold, food, water, medicine, and what-have-you in a bunker was a bit of an extremist – a conspiracy theorist, a believer in the apocalypse or impending nuclear doom, or a holder far-right political beliefs. (Some claimed prepping rosé after the election of President Obama, for example).
Now, that kind of behavior – called “prepping,” its practitioners are often called “doomsday preppers” – has been documented to be on the rise in the past decade, according to new research carried out by Dr. Michael Mills, lecturer in criminology in the School of Social Policy at the University of Kent, in Britain.
But the reason they prep isn’t what you might imagine.
As part of his research, Dr. Mills spoke with preppers in 18 states in the U.S. to get their motivations behind why they stockpile.
What he found was that preppers prep for far more general reasons than we give them credit for: they do it as a reaction to the “general culture of fear that informs modern mainstream American society.” And a stream of advice from the U.S. government on how to prepare for disaster – has only fueled such fear.
And these preppers aren’t extremists – they’re mainly people who want to be prepared. Sort of like John Goodman’s character in 10 Cloverfield Lane, only not homicidal.
“While the media portrays ‘preppers’ as extremists, our view is much more nuanced. Rather than seeing prepping as an exception within America’s right-wing political culture, we ought to see it as being reflective of increasingly established and popular outlooks,” said Dr. Mills, in a release.
According to Dr. Mills, preppers are reacting to a whole morass of fear that they generally pick up from the media, like the collapse of the economy, cyberattacks, terrorism, pandemic, environmental disasters, and so on. One could say that their stockpiling is almost a rational response, an activity that makes them more self-sufficient and independent.
“Fear is now deeply entrenched in modern American culture and is the principal reason that so many citizens are engaging in ‘prepping,'” said Dr. Mills.
Do you have a favorite item to stockpile? My hoarding item is MAC’s perfectly-pink lipstick in “Snob.” I’m terrified they’ll discontinue it one day.