Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The problem with many Preppers/Survivalists: Reality being wrong about stuff

Some time ago I did a video on youtube about barter items. Basically I explained that I dont believe much in barter items, mainly for two reasons.
1) I haven’t seen it work well myself. Almost everyone that ended dealing in a barter club after the economic collapse in Argentina did so out of pure necessity and they would tell you that cash would have been better. In many cases, people in barter clubs ended up hitting different fairs and markets, both dealing with cash and barter clubs. Most barter clubs would in fact end up using barter coupons, which are little else than an improvised fiat currency of their own 2)Other than some occasional bartering among friends, when studying different disasters around the world, I saw that bartering out of necessity was limited to certain types of worst case disasters, where even basic economic tools such as currency aren’t an option. Examples would be extensive economic collapse, or events in which occupation forces disrupt commerce, a country or town is sieged, or in a smaller scale a person is in jail. All these are rather unique, unnatural situations and when looking at the bigger picture they are very unlikely events and even if they do, a nice egg nest in an offshore account helps more than 100 pounds of nails, hammer and saws.
 So with that in mind I said that if you already have your other emergency supplies, along with some savings and you just have to buy something for bartering after the end of the world, start with precious metals. Historically they have been valuable and accepted during economic collapses and war, and even if none of that happens they can still be sold today in "normal" times. Somewhat normal times are by far what you're most likely to see the rest of your life, with disasters and emergencies where the funds precious metals can provide not being helpful being extremely rare.

A few days ago someone commented the following in that video:
Luckily I didn't have to watch the whole 30 minutes, because at about 4:30 he puts precious metals as first on his list. Then I knew I was watching a dope. In the prepper wet dream situation of SHTF, if you need food, and I have food, and you tell me you can trade gold or silver, I'll laugh in your face and tell you to hit the road. I can't eat, drink, wear or live in your gold.
This comment is a wonderful example of the fundamental mistake most people make when it comes to preparing for emergencies and disaster: Adjusting it to their own personal fantasies or “wet dreams”, using it to justify a hobby or a lifestyle they look forward to rather than objectively preparing for emergencies and disasters. I'm not standing in some high altar here preaching to anyone. We ALL do this to some extent, some more blindly than others but I believe its an area we can all improve on, at least those of us that are capable of acknowledging it.
These are just a few examples of what I’m saying here:

1)Focusing on guns
Who doesn’t like guns? For lots of people, guns were the reason why they got interested in self-defense and later gravitating towards preparedness. A firearm is without a doubt an essential tool for self-defense, but then again its not the only thing you should focus on. Guns are nice to have. They are fun to shoot and they have a place. An essential firearms battery also has a place. A sound suppressor can be a very useful tool too. So can full auto weapons, same goes for a 50 BMG rifle. Night vision goggles give you a huge tactical advantage. All these statements are true, but where’s the balance, where do you draw the line, and where do you simply admit you just love guns? With unlimited funds you can buy all of the previously mentioned guns and accessories but its easy to lose perspective and spend money on this you justify by saying you “need” them while not addressing more relevant, realistic needs.
Consequence: Way too much people end up with a ton of guns and very little food, no water, no emergency funds and no other supplies or skills other than owning guns. Even more ironically, in many cases people that believe to be preparing end up with dozens of guns, but never spent a single dollar in being trained on how to use them correctly. Tip to keep in mind: If you buy a gun, don’t buy another until you take a good class on how to use that specific type of gun. Do this for handguns, shotguns and rifles.

2)Focusing too much on Food
In my experience its usually the ladies that are more likely to focus too much on food. Women being generally wiser than man in the ways of life, if you’re going to obsess or focus on only one thing, you can do a lot worse than having lots of food. Food storage is an essential part of survival and you’re going to be eating it anyway if stored correctly.
Consequence: While food is arguably the most important supply to stockpile, focusing only on storing food, cooking it and neglecting other aspects of preparedness is still a bad idea and leaves you exposed to a number of other problems you many encounter that you simply will not fix no matter how well stocked your pantry is.

3)Focusing on gardening and homesteading.
This would be an example of justifying a certain lifestyle by focusing only on the theoretical self-reliance that a homestead is supposed to provide, while not taking into account its many challenges and disadvantages.
Consequence: Many folks have found out the hard way how difficult it is to make a living simply by growing your own food and trying to make a farm work, especially a small one at that. In some cases people have followed poor advice and moved away from good jobs and a good community to find themselves isolated, not making enough money and not integrating well in their new communities. In other cases people have compromised and end up commuting for hours in an attempt to have the best of both worlds. This is a tricky solution since you end up losing hours each day of your life. From a preparedness point of view, while growing food is a valuable asset, it can be done without having to move too far away from it all. An isolated homestead is all but impossible to defend during troubled times and having all your assets concentrated in one property alone can be a disaster on its own if ever forced to bug out.

4)Lack of self-criticism when it comes to fitness
Maybe the most common problem of all among preppers and survivalists is being in such poor shape that they wont be able to work, fight, walk or swim as they think they will when needed to do so. In fact in many cases people are not just out of shape, but fat to the point where combined with a sedentary lifestyle, their own health is their number one death risk factor yet they focus on EMPs, earthquakes or the breakdown of society, while remaining oblivious to the fact that whats really breaking down is their own arteries.
Consequence: After years of neglecting their own bodies it eventually catches up with people. Numerous diseases, worn joints, fatigue, and poor health in general eventually becomes a problem that in the best of cases ends up costing thousands of dollars, undermines your quality of life and ability to work, let alone survive disasters. Worst case scenario you don’t have to worry about a thing anymore because you’re six feet under.

5)Lack of self-criticism regarding social skills
So far I’ve mentioned aspects that are known to most and have been discussed often, but lack of social skills and ostracism are very common in the community and rarely addressed. With the understanding of some of the more shady sociopolitical constructions comes a rejection of those that don’t understand such manipulations. People that don’t get how disasters may occur, how likely some of them are, are often referred to as “sheep” by those involved in the preparedness community. Yet, again, this works as yet another excuse so as to not try to be social, don’t bother getting along with people that may think different. The problem is, we are all different, and with the excuse of getting along better with like-minded people your circle of acquaintances becomes increasingly small. First you stop hanging out with anyone that has different views, then you stop getting along with anyone that isnt in the same boat regarding survival, and soon enough even your own family bothers you.
Consequence: You end up alone. Families that fall apart, problems with the wife or husband, problems with kids, parents, problem with school teachers, neighbors, boss, employees. At the end of the day you need friends, neighbors and acquaintances, a network of people that helps one another. With enough self-absorption and introversion, you end up losing the ones you love the most, and then what’s the point of preparing at all?
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.


Anonymous said...

Hi Ferfal,

Your first point about too much focus on guns has given me pause for thought.

I'm sure the universal justification for holding firearms in the house is for self-defense in a survival situation. Citizens, Preppers and Survivalists hope to resist home invasions, physical threats and external aggression from predators.

However, anyone who has not prepared the food / water / precious metals & community elements of a survival plan will soon be hungry, thirsty, and desperate. And well armed.

Without a fully rounded plan, they risk becoming the very thing they are prepping against.

Anonymous said...

All excellent points. Still guns are just so much more fun than water filters.

kelfa23 said...

Hi Ferfal. I've been reading your blog for a few years now. Im 31 in that time Ive gone through a lot of changes. I've converted to Catholicism, got married bought a house, had kids. These things make me realize I don't want the Magnum Opus of my life to be the collection of lighters and toilet paper I have stockpiled for an event that will probably never happen in my life time.

Plus if you get hit by a bus, those barter items stored up aren't going to give you much peace. That money invested in those things would have been more wisely invested in lottery tickets. The odds of a payoff are much better.

So yes, I have a handgun, I have some food stored up. Passports and cash and gold. I'll leave it at that. And as a Catholic I'll use the time Im given, and the resources I have to live a better , happier life.

Thanks for the columns and videos over the years. Im looking forward to getting your latest book now that Ive found my kindle again.

Anonymous said...

"Even more ironically, in many cases people that believe to be preparing end up with dozens of guns, but never spent a single dollar in being trained on how to use them correctly. Tip to keep in mind: If you buy a gun, don’t buy another until you take a good class on how to use that specific type of gun. Do this for handguns, shotguns and rifles". YES YES YES! This is such BRILLIANT advice! If you spent thousands on an airplane, would you think it reasonable to learn to fly it? How about learning to fly it during dangerous times - during a storm, at night or in the fog? Learning to use the gun you have during a time of stress is so critical - yet the vast majority of gun owners never consider training... They just want another gun.

Anonymous said...

Without a doubt, the lack of basic social skills and physical fitness are the two biggest weaknesses I see from YouTube posts.

Anonymous said...

Social isolation and lack of physical fitness are merely symptoms of the two things most difficult to gain. Self discipline and personal relationships of value.

Focus on these two things should be the core of survivalism. But they are also pretty damn complex.