2014 - 2016
Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Superstorms. War. Martial Law. The Rapture. The Zombie Apocalypse. The Bug Out Bag is the most basic piece of gear for disaster preparedness. It is usually a backpack or an easy to carry duffel bag containing the essentials needed to sustain life for 72 hours, or to possibly begin a new civilization.
Preppers are practical people who make lists. They have exactly what you need somewhere in a bin or pocket. They are liberal and conservative, atheist and born again. Many are the people you were taught as a child to run to when there is a disaster: teachers, soldiers, security guards, and pilots. They are prepared and they are prepared to help others. The philosophy of being strong for others is part of their worldview. Most preppers I meet are community minded but some are fiercely independent. Some are reclusive and paranoid. Independence is a fundamental principle when describing the American character. We praise the self reliant man and credit him for the shining city upon the hill, but Twenty-first Century capitalism has changed Americans and our fears are running rampant. The new self-reliant American no longer experiences transcendence in nature as Thoreau once did, but instead, escapes to nature in an effort to hoard and protect property. Living off grid has become a capitalist enterprise, banking on our fears and desires for stability. Paranoia and fear are accepted states of being at some level and we all exist someplace on the spectrum.
Fear is a powerful creator of conspiracy theories and post Apocalyptic narratives that we love to binge-watch. But many Americans are taking notes from the Doomsday Preppers and Zombie survivalists. Self storage occupancy continues to increase and pre-packed Bug Out Bags are showing up in stores near you. If you live in an area of the country where natural disasters are regular occurrences you know that emergency preparation is a necessary part of life. An earthquake, hurricane, or tornado can knock out your power for days or it can be devastating, you never know for certain until it happens. Flashlights, extra batteries, and water were a part of most household pantries. The 72 hour essentials that dictate the contents of the Bug Out Bag is based on the fact that a human cannot survive longer than 72 hours without water. So what else do you need to survive? Your medications certainly, but do you really need MREs and a weapon or twenty? The commodification of our fears has nurtured the prepper culture and now today’s Bug Out bag contains much more than the necessities for surviving a natural disaster. It contains the gear we need for a man-made disaster we believe is possible; the Apocalypse.
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