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Overcoming Prepper Stereotypes | Backdoor Survival

Prepping is a popular term but it really just means thinking ahead and planning. This is not so different than the way people had to live a few generations ago. Stores were further apart and not open 24 hours a day. There was no super fast shipping, and if you wanted something out of season then you better have canned it, dried it, or smoked it the season before!

Preparing for the coming winter was a major survival advantage in the past. If you lived in some climates and wanted to thrive, then you had to think ahead because one bad winter could mean starvation.

Backdoor Survival has a diverse group of readers. Some of you may have been prepping for years, and some may still be thinking about what you want to do. My intention with this post is to point out and find some humor and common ground when dealing with a variety of stereotypes within the prepping community. I have definitely found myself thrown into some of these categories at different times in my life.

The Homesteader

A lot of people dream about homesteading. The idea is to live simply, maybe build a house or fix up an older more affordable house picked up with a lot of scrutiny. Homesteaders often keep livestock and start small gardens. Sometimes this goes slowly and sometimes people go into it way too fast. Homesteaders can be any age but they are often 30s to older. Those that are younger are rarer but becoming less so.

The Tin Hat Stereotype

I really dislike this one because it is so often used to discredit anyone that wants to prepare for any future disaster. They are thrown in with the conspiracy theorists. It encourages people to envision all preppers as people running around with lots of superstition and constantly worried about a disaster and not caring for anything but prepping and worrying about the end of the world.


The Militia Stereotype

Not all preppers are incredibly militant, but some get it in their heads that they are. Militias were a big part of the USA’s past. While there are still militia groups out there, a lot of people automatically think that those that believe in the Constitution and have firearms and believe they are necessary to keep things in check, are crazy and waiting to overthrow the government.


The Conspiracy Theory Every Where Stereotype

A lot of people read all kinds of things and find it interesting to discuss them. Sure there are a lot of conspiracy theories out there, but at the same time, we need to keep in mind that this term is used to discredit a lot of arguments that challenge someone else’s viewpoint.

All you have to do is call something a conspiracy theory and it will at least make a lot of people pause and be more suspicious of the viewpoint. This is yet another divide and conquers tactic that makes for good play in the news or anytime someone wants to create a stir.

There is no question that there are a lot of theories out there that make no sense and have no basis. I just ask you to make that call by using your own logic and common sense rather than just completely ignoring something due to a label that gets thrown around way too easily.

A lot of people call everything that Alex Jone’s publishes a conspiracy theory or fake news, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have an audience on both sides. Just because someone reads a specific person’s site doesn’t mean they agree with anything that person says.


Fact: Prepping doesn’t have to involve guns

While I think that a firearm is a good idea, not all preppers are firearms enthusiasts. I get the impression more are than not but the stereotype of preppers all having stockpiles of dozens of guns and thousands of rounds of ammo can be harmful, and stokes fear in those that do not know any better.

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I have run into people with the ridiculous idea that preppers are secretly waiting around for an uprising against the government. It is hard to convince some otherwise regardless of what you say.

Personally, I would say that people that prep want to be left alone and allowed to lead a peaceful life and take care of their loved ones. If anything they are concerned that they may be harassed by the government and do what they can to avoid any interaction.

The I am all about my faith stereotype

While religion may be a big part of your life, it can be off-putting to others if you are too open about it too soon. Preppers that automatically try to talk too much about faith can drive others away. A gentle approach is best for not scaring people or making them put up their guard immediately.

Faith is important to a lot of people, but it can make others very suspicious at times. There is a stereotype that those that are religious are going to be very judgmental.

Even if you are not that type, there are a lot of people out there that have experienced the judgment of various religious beliefs and have a hard time realizing that not everyone that goes to services is judging them harshly or “thinks they are going to a very bad place.”

Pick the right time to talk about your faith, and you will get further than if you are over the top the first time you have a conversation with someone.

I am not trying to talk down about religion but rather create a better understanding of how it can be perceived if approached in a certain way. First conversations are so important to future dialogue and friendships.

At the same time, there are plenty of preppers out there that do not actively practice any faith at all but just by being called a prepper, there may be the assumption that they do!

Stay calm and don’t lose your temper.

It is hard to not feel insulted or attacked when someone makes negative comments or uses choice descriptions even jokingly. Laugh it off a bit. Don’t fuel the anger and hate because it doesn’t really accomplish anything and often reinforces negative stereotypes for both parties. I just really wish people could give each other a chance without all the hateful hollering. I can disagree with you on 99% of everything but I still think you have as much right to your opinion as me. I don’t think yelling or attacking someone for expressing their view is ok. Look at both sides, make your case, and realize that some people will never agree with you no matter what and that is okay!

Help others learn.

Oh my, there is so much to learn when it comes to being more self-sufficient and prepared. I learn something new pretty often despite all the things Matt and I did when we were a bit younger. While we learned from a few, we had to figure out a lot on our own and through trial and error sometimes. No two homesteads are exactly alike and it can be hard to anticipate everything or “know your land” like you do after a few years. Sharing how to do things with others can lead to you learning something from them too! A lot of younger people would like to learn but they don’t have adults in their lives to show them how to do things. I had to learn a lot of things like cooking on my own because people were so afraid I would mess up their cooking they wouldn’t let me participate.

Life can be hectic but take the time to help others learn if you can, and despite the differences, you may have. It is not necessary to be just like everyone you hang out with or learn skills with, in fact, it is not healthy to only be able to handle being around those that are too much like you all the time and never talk or interact in a civil manner with anyone else.

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One time when there were hard times within the family while I was still in college and Matt was graduated and working until we went to Alaska, my mother in law Sally looked directly at me and held up a pencil. She said to see this one pencil is one of us. It can be broken pretty easily then she held up a bundle and said but all together we can’t break. I remember that because it is applicable to a lot of life. The extreme division that is happening in the USA holds us back. Sometimes it seems like people want to be outraged all the time, there is no middle ground.

The Millenial/Crazy Liberal Prepper Stereotype

Unfortunately, younger preppers get classified as weak, snowflakes, or whiny even before they open their mouths. I have been thrown into this category regardless of what I write or my actions. Just for reference, I am 35 years old  You can be judged strictly on appearance. People put words in my mouth every once in a while. There will be times when I am told I said something that I did not. This is the times when I have to write back. People hear and read what they want to hear and it causes trouble. Be careful before you judge based on age, appearance, or gender.

At this point a lot of you have seen me in all types of pictures but what if you had to judge me just based on these three photos below and nothing else? 

The Chappy Stereotype

I don’t know how many of you are “King of the Hill” fans, but I remember that when Hank goes to buy a Christmas tree the fellow selling it is Chappy who is obviously a Paul Bunyan type figure. Chappy does everything himself. He renders his own lard, and he does every small step he can to be self-sufficient. He is the fellow that lives by himself and rarely comes out to interact with others.

Just because someone is trying out living off to themselves doesn’t mean they all have Chappy’s attitude. Heck, I lived this way myself for a while although it was with Matt, not alone.

Here is the interior of our living quarters with no indoor plumbing and very limited power. Our water was accessed from a spicket 300 feet away, and yes we raised pigs and rendered lard!

These pictures are from around 2009/2010. Now we have a mortgage free house and a few acres of grapes. Sometimes living like a “Chappy” means someone is trying to reach a long-term goal and use their resources the best they can! If we had paid rent somewhere and not lived on the property, we would not have been able to build our home or be around to work on it whenever we had some time and supplies! We also managed to eat good and save money at the grocery store raising and butchering our own meats. The animals helped clear the land some too!

Prepping can bring people together!

Prepping can bring people together because it is common ground. Everyone needs food, water, shelter, medical care, etc. Sometimes greater understanding is really about finding and focusing on the things we have in common instead of focusing on differences that divide and create conflict.

What stereotypes and questions have you had to deal with over the years? Have you ever totally misjudged someone only to discover that you have a lot in common with them?

Samantha Biggers can be reached at [email protected]

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