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A prepper – a term getting lots of fresh attention in the time of the pandemic – is close to what we used to call a “survivalist” – used to, until that term grew some negative connotations.

Merriam-Webster calls a survivalist “one who has prepared to survive in the anarchy of an anticipated breakdown of society.” This can be taken to modest levels or to great extremes. Many people put aside some extra food or supplies in the event of the unexpected; that’s commonplace. The point is in how far you push the principle.

There’s a website called Survivalist, which sells all kinds if equipment and supplies for roughing it, but the interpretation you place on what you see there is, well, your own.

Preppers are similar, but with this distinction: They seem to be more urban than survivalists, and more oriented to surviving in urban locations, as opposed to finding an outpost in the woods.

Parallel to survivalists, there is, yes, a

The perspective of preppers and survivalists does seem to overlap.

Author Mark O’Connell, who said he had been pulled into the mindset at one point, remarked in an essay, “The doomsday prepper vision of the world is unapologetically bleak: society as a fragile edifice, a thin veneer of behavioral norms over the abyss of greed and violence that is human nature. Among preppers, one of the preferred ways of reacting to a severe crisis is to batten down the hatches and retreat to one’s home, which is lavishly stocked with food and supplies and, in many cases, weapons.”

It sounds like the result of reading too many dystopian novels and watching too much dystopian video, of which there has been an explosion in the last couple of decades.

It has the feeling more of symptom than solution.

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