Have you ever shared something with another person and eventually regret opening your mouth in the first place? This has happened to me a ton of times in the past usually because I just say what’s on my mind. Quickly. I will blurt out my thoughts and feelings on just about any topic from time to time without putting my words through the old tactfulness speech wisdom machine first. Sometimes I can recover, but other times I have to try to make a joke out of what I said, apologize pretty quickly or in extreme cases, make a circuitous rationalization about why the offensive thing I just said wasn’t offensive at all and the offended person is being silly.
My wife is often the recipient of my lack of thinking before I speak because I talk to her more than anyone else. With her, it is more likely that I will say something that could very easily be construed in a way that was not my intention. I remember one time she was getting ready because we were going out to dinner at a nice restaurant. I passed by the bathroom door and she turned to look at me when I said, “You’re eyes look so good with makeup”. Her mouth fell open immediately and I knew that I had just stuck my foot in it again. It took a lot of convincing and apologizing to get her to believe that I didn’t mean she was ugly without eye makeup but I eventually recovered from that little disaster.
She has never let me live that down though.
As preppers we have a unique challenge when we are communicating with other people about the topic of prepping. Part of our mission as I see it, should be to convince as many people as possible that they should be prepared as completely as they deem prudent while at the same time, not letting anyone know we are preppers ourselves or to a great detail, what we have done to prepare ourselves. We don’t want anyone knowing what we have in case they decide that they need to take it from us.
Walking that thin line is full of risks and we talk about concepts like being the Grey neighbor, practicing OPSEC and generally keeping a low profile when it comes to our preps, but sooner or later unless you live in a cave you will end up dealing with other people. Hopefully, this is on the good side of disaster and not when all hell has broken loose, people are dying or desperate and you find yourself making life or death decisions that you will have to live with.
I don’t believe our chances for survival are very high if we do not form a larger group eventually. At some point you will have to lay your cards on the table if you are ever going to grow your group outside of your immediate family. That will involve a lot of wisdom, trust and relationship building that for some, takes years to accomplish only to dissolve in flames over a single dispute.
Win friends and influence people
Bobcat sent me the following email the other day with a scenario that prompted this post. I enjoy receiving questions like this and most of them usually end up motivating me to write on a subject if I haven’t covered it many times before. I have included his entire email for context.
I have a worrying dilemma. I was at a neighborhood potluck supper last week that I promoted to meet the new neighbors, encourage cooperation, etc. prior to any predicted problems this fall (isn’t it odd how disparate authors are agreeing on this?)
One of our new neighbors came up to me and said, “Zombies?” Did this guy know me or what? I didn’t think I had “Prepper” stamped on my forehead. He then went on to discuss the problems of living in our neighborhood if there were a zombie apocalypse. I played along for a minute, but he had a serious point that he was concerned about a disaster happening “sometime”, and perhaps we should form a group to promote preparation and cooperation. So far so good.
After talking for a few more minutes about our common interest, I got the feeling that he was someone who couldn’t keep his mouth shut if needed, and believed everyone should share resources to get along. I’m all for that if I have some to spare, but done anonymously through trusted third parties like the church. Otherwise, I envision a constant stream of beggars at our door, or an organized gang coming to clean us out!
So what do I do – cut off contact and hope he forgets about it, or encourage him to build a stockpile of food and supplies, so that he is equally prepared, and maybe realizes the importance of OpSec over pre-disaster organization?
First, the good news
One of the things I have noticed over the last 10 years is that as a society, there is an increased awareness and I think acceptance of the idea of prepping as a common sense action. Why is that so? I think that TV shows like Doomsday Preppers certainly had a part. Hollywood has helped expose millions to the survivalist mindset with some great prepper movies even though both Hollywood and NatGeo paint their own fair share of situations that cast Preppers in a bad light at best. Some describe preppers as downright deviants and in fact, some are.
The media has helped get the concept out there about Prepping, but people everywhere are stopping to think for themselves. They view these preppers on TV and listen to what they say, their rationale behind prepping and begin to think that maybe these people and their bug out bags have are on to something. People in every nation; continue to see tragedy on the news, violence in the papers and oppression in their countries and sense that they should take whatever practical steps they are able to take now in order to protect their family.
I believe collectively, more and more people are paying attention to the world around them and the message of prepping is resonating inside their lives. Preppers can see the risks in life that so many of the sheeple ignore, although each person might have their own idea of what they are preparing for. People are taking steps to plan for bad days ahead because increasingly in their own minds it just makes sense to be prepared at some level. It feels like the right thing to do.
That is one good thing from this interaction Bobcat had with his neighbor is that at least one other person in his neighborhood is worried about the future and is maybe just now taking some steps towards building a community and addressing some of the problems they can foresee in his idea of what disaster would be. Even zombies are a perfectly good reason in my opinion to prep. When it comes down to it, I would imagine that many more of his neighbors feel the same way too, but might be hesitant to say anything about it.
Walking the tightrope of OPSEC
I don’t know if I have had too many detailed conversations with people about my preparations outside of extended family. Even when I do talk to people in my own family about prepping, I probably don’t share all of the details that I share with you on the Prepper Journal. They do all know about this blog (some even read it!) so it isn’t a great secret but probably changes how our conversations go to a certain extent.
What I have done is discussed situations that a prepper could be thinking about with many people almost as a way of gauging preparedness or an inclination to that subject without actually talking specifics. Maybe it is my personality and I don’t talk or open up as much as I should but so far it has kept me out of situations like this. What would you say to someone, maybe even someone you have known for a long time who proposes sharing every resource “to get along”?
There are a couple of ways I can think of to address Bobcat’s question above and I will give you my ideas but hope everyone would comment below with your own perspective.
Choice 1 – Cut off Contact with your neighbor
It would be easy at this point to ignore the neighbor and never speak to them again. This could gain you some temporary peace, but depending on what you shared about your own preps, it could make you a target if the neighbor turns out one day looking for shared resources. You might avoid a confrontation now and possibly later if he never graces the front of your door again. Of course, you don’t know what they could say to anyone else. If this neighbor never does anything to prepare, the grid goes down and authorities come around looking for people who have “seen something” to “say something” you could get ratted out.
Choice 2 – Get closer
Another choice is to continue to speak to the neighbor about prepping but not specifically show your cards. You may be able to talk him out of his initial belief that everyone should share resources. I think people who think this SHTF socialism is such a great idea doesn’t have anything to share themselves. To them, the idea of taking from others if they need it or for “the greater good” is appealing. If you work with this neighbor and get him to build his own stocks, he might be less inclined to advocate everyone sharing if something does happen.
Choice 3 – Grow the group larger now
You can take your initial idea of getting your neighbors together and expand it. It may work out that by getting a larger group prepared, you will do one of two things.
- You will have a larger group of like-minded prepared people who don’t want to allow this neighbors form of Socialism in a disaster. You’ll have backup so to speak.
- The rest of your neighbors will hopefully get prepared in the process so nobody will need to share anything in the first place. At the very least, they will all be coming from a standpoint of shared wealth, not shared poverty of resources.
Really, this email highlighted so many things that I could have written on and I don’t even know if I answered Bobcat’s question but I appreciate the opportunity. It could easily have been about how you can share your resources, teamwork, leadership or how to grow a survival group but this is where the subject led me.
Now it’s your turn.
What would you do if this was your neighbor? What do you think about SHTF Socialism?