Here’s a little insight into the nature of the problem. You may recall a couple weeks back I shared observations from James Talmage Stevens, aka Doctor Prepper, when he was my guest on DestinySurvival Radio for June 7, 2012. He said there’s not as much interest in prepping as there has been in the past.
Today’s self reliance expos might draw a thousand people and maybe 50-100 vendors, but not like much larger expos in the ’70′s and before Y2K. I was surprised when he said that most expo attendees are middle aged and upward. Young families and single adults aren’t generally going to expos.
So where are they? Does that mean younger people aren’t getting prepared? Or does it mean they’re just not attending these shows? Are people not paying attention to the threats we’re facing?
Is there a way to motivate family and friends, especially younger people, to start prepping?
About three months back one of my readers suggested putting an ad in a major paper, like the New York Times, to make people aware. Around Easter time I wrote a post responding to that idea, which you can see here. In a nutshell, I think the best approach to stirring up people is one on one.
Carolyn Nicolaysen and I talked about this lack of interest in prepping and what can be done to get people motivated to prepare. Tuesday evening I was her guest on Ready or Not with Carolyn Nicolaysen. That’s her show on the Preparedness Radio Network, where you hear DestinySurvival Radio.
Yesterday afternoon before the show, I e-mailed DestinySurvival Dispatch subscribers to let them know about the show and to ask for opinions on what we might do. What follows are a few thoughts from both the e-mail responses and what Carolyn and I discussed. There was plenty of interest from chat room participants during the show.
Carolyn and I talked a while about why more people aren’t prepping. Are they burned out on all that’s in the news these days? Are they in denial? Does it take a disaster like the fires in Colorado or the tropical storm and flooding in Florida to get people’s attention?
I think it could be each of those things to one degree or another. We’re living in a fragmented society. High tech gadgets and social media put us in touch with information, and I’m all in favor of being aware of what’s going on in our world and our local communities. But having knowledge doesn’t mean we’re wise. And, no, there’s not an app for everything.
Plus, no matter how hard we try, many people just won’t get it. Some will always be dreamers and avoid reality. Those who are more realistic make better prepping candidates.
As I’ve said before, the one thing I like about the Internet is that people will find what they’re searching for. You’re reading this now because you want to, not because it’s featured on a big news network. And believe me, DestinySurvival hasn’t been noticed by them.
For me that raises a few more questions. Are many people quietly getting the prepping info and products they need from the Internet? Are there more preppers than we realize, but they’re keeping their mouths shut about it?
I think the solution is not to cloak everything in the guise of preparedness. We preppers do believe it’s a lifestyle and an attitude, don’t we? Being indirect about it may be the best way.
As Gerald Franz said in an e-mail yesterday, “I have found that any approach that engenders fear is subject to being rejected…It seems that responses to preparing are in inverse proportion to the need. The greater the threat, the more the resistance.” Fear mmay stimulate some, but it will turn off others.
As an example of an indirect approach, does taking someone camping have to be all about prepping? What if it’s just plain fun? What if you show someone skills that will come in handy when we’re forced to live without modern conveniences? They’ll be prepared more than what they would have been without having gone camping.
What about the companies who sell storage food by having home parties? The advantages of having extra food that’s delicious and convenient to prepare count for something, even if preparedness isn’t stressed as the main point of having that storage food.
What about the moms who are catching on to the fact that our processed food is filled with unhealthful substances? More and more people are turning to gardening and canning as a result. Whether they realize it or not, they’re becoming prepared.
It seems to me we as preppers can become too burdened with proselitizing others into prepping. Don’t get me wrong. I’d like to see more people prepare for survival. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be working hard on this site and DestinySurvival Radio.
But if we’re enthused about what we’re doing, won’t that rub off on others? Put positive peer pressure into play. Shouldn’t we behave as if prepping is cool? Because it is, isn’t it?
Doesn’t leading by example and teaching those who will be taught count for something?
The word “destiny” is in this site’s name for a reason. Those who are meant to prepare and survive will do so. Sadly, we can’t do anything for those who don’t care or refuse to prepare.
What’s really at the heart of this is getting people to change. How can we do that?
I talked with Carolyn for a few minutes about a book I read recently called Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. I can’t spend much time on it here, but it’s an excellent resource for helping individuals and organizations or companies to make changes.
One of the things the book points out is the need to set small, specific, measurable goals. This is especially good advice when it comes to prepping because it can seem so overwhelming. You and I want to make things easier, not more burdensome for that person who we want to see get prepared.
What if we present little ideas and questions that are more readily solvable? Achieving small goals builds confidence. Take baby steps in moving from one idea or project to another.
As for a practical application, encourage your friend or loved one to take one thing at a time, whether it’s building a survival pantry or storm proofing their home. By the way, you can apply this baby step method, too, if you’re feeling pressured.
Another idea is to help people assume a new identity as preppers. In other words, is prepping cool? Is being prepared being a good citizen? Does it mean being a responsible adult who cares for his or her family?
Because we’re emotional beings, we need to feel something. All the reasoning in the world won’t always work. What if we emphasized the peace of mind and security one gets from being prepared? Are there object lessons to prove that point?
Carolyn suggested introducing prepping to a mother by raising the question of how the household would cope if she were ill during pregnancy. Shouldn’t there be food on hand to make it easier for the husband to prepare meals for the rest of the family?
Or what about appealing to a mother’s sense of wanting to protect her children? Couldn’t that motivate her to learn how to shoot a handgun? Lots of women are taking up shooting, and they’re doing it for self defense. They’re not labeling it as preparedness.
If we’re going to motivate others to prepare for survival, we should be cultivating relationships. One way to do this, though it sounds crass, is to look to others as resources. Your neighbor may know more about fixing cars than you do. You may know more about gardening than he does. How about exchanging information and skills? Then you can both benefit.
Carolyn and I also touched on the subject of giving gifts. For example, if you gave someone a first aid kit, they’d have it ready when they needed it. They might not appreciate it at first, but there may come a time when they will.
Janet Liebsch of It’s A Disaster! reminded me in an e-mail that they encourage distribution of their book through fundraising. Other companies, such as Quake Kare offer kits and other preparedness items as fundraisers. Possibilities abound for schools, churches, scouting groups, etc.
Carolyn said she hasn’t been successful with stirring up interest in such efforts. However, she’s involved with an innovative way to raise funds for nonprofit organizations. Find out more on her site at http://blog.totallyready.com/.
Janet Liebsch also recommended checking out any teen CERT groups. Do that by going to http://www.citizencorps.gov/cert/teencert/index.shtm
In spite of my negative comments about social media above, I agree with Carolyn that it’s a good idea to share little experiences and insights with others. Obviously, there is interest in Facebook, Twitter and the rest, and you just might plant a seed in someone’s mind.
You can hear more of my discussion with Carolyn by listening to Ready or Not with Carolyn Nicolaysen for June 26, 2012.
What do you think? How are you reaching out to others to motivate them to prepare? What got you into prepping? Did someone influence you in a positive way? If so, how? Leave a comment and let others know.