People on Reddit who know Doomsday preppers were asked: "What are they like?" These are some of the most insightful answers.
Apparently God would allow the devil to unleash all the demons of hell on Earth and collect all the souls of the unfaithful. There would be no electricity, no running water, batteries wouldn't work, generators and cars wouldn't work, and to go outside would mean instant death, presumably by being dragged to hell by a demon.
They full on bought into this story and ran with it. Not surprisingly, there were a bevvy of publishers and writers who wrote books on the subject, and my parents bought them all and made them required reading of all us kids. There were prayer books, rosaries, idols, votive candles, pamphlets... all kinds of paraphernalia all over our house. My parents bought votive candles by the case, because during the three days of darkness only votive candles would burn. They stockpiled water and canned food in the basement. We even had a family disaster plan in place for when it would happen, how we would get to the house, and what we would do during the three days.
This went on for six or seven years. I was 13 when it began and it continued all through high school and into my first two years of college. I talked about it at school and people thought I was [nuts] (which, in retrospect, I was). I tried to get my favorite teachers to believe me, because I wanted to save them. I didn't have very many friends to begin and this only made things worse. The bullies at school went from casually tormenting me, to full on targeting me. I skipped my senior prom to go spend a weekend retreat for young men considering the priesthood because I didn't have a girlfriend, and I thought people would just make fun of me while I was there.
I didn't realize it at the time, but it was incredibly stressful. I was living in fear of the end of the world as I knew it, and I didn't know when it would come. I didn't know who among my loved ones were going to live or die, or for that matter whether or not I was worthy enough to live through it. I prayed constantly, read the Bible, went to church, and tried to be the perfect Catholic. It also gave me a crippling anxiety disorder until I was about 23 years old (oddly enough, the age I lost my virginity and stopped going to church), and to this day I live with the vaguest feeling that I am, in some way, guilty and horrible and I'm unworthy of what life has to offer.
My parents never offered any explanation or apology for that ordeal. To them, they were being good parents, because better safe than sorry. I've never talked to them about it, and they've never tried to bring it up with me. They never said, "Well kids, I guess it's not true..." It just sort of went away. The books and pamphlets all got put into boxes. The canned goods and water got used up. The votive candles are still down in my parent's basement from what I remember, but they're covered in dust, and haven't been touched in years.
I'm no longer Catholic. I have a deep resentment towards the church, and I have serious doubts about the existence of god or any god. I don't believe the world is coming to an end, except in 4 billion years when the sun expands and encompasses Earth because that's what science tells us will happen.
2/22 Relax, we're not all lunatics afraid of zombies or some neo-facist government takeover. Some of us are Canadians who remember harsh winters when the power would go out for a few days.
3/22 So, I wasn't raised by a hardcore prepped, but my grandpa is one. He started stocking for Y2K about 5 years prior. My siblings and I never really thought much of it because we were raised in the mind set of grandpa is a little unhinged so we should just smile and nod when he goes off into his "the world is going to end" rants.
Anyways, the new year comes and goes and life continues on as normal. Three years goes by, school lets out for the summer, and my dad received a call from my grandpa. Grandpa wants to "borrow" me for a week so I can help him move all of his stuff from one storage unit in our home state to his current state, so it'll be closer "just in case the world ends, I've read some troubling things in the paper, son."
Next thing I know, my grandpa and I are standing in front of a 20 by 35 foot storage unit, filled top to bottom with those plastic storage tote things. These things are filled with dollar store flashlights, duct tape, rope, batteries, socks, undies, and who knows what else.
As the days wear on, and my thirteen year old self is starting to get very tired of hauling these totes into the back of a rental truck and then driving for eight hours just to turn around and do it again, I notice something. We have emptied out about 30 feet deep into the unit. The next row of stuff was toilet paper. Wall to wall, floor to ceiling, a row of toilet paper. I'm thinking "cool, something useful." Boy, was I right. The last five feet deep was toilet paper. Oh my god, so much toilet paper. We ended up making the last load with noting but toilet paper in the back of the rental truck.
Again, years go by and my dad once again received a call from my grandpa. The year is 2012. He is calling to complain about how he has finally ran out of toilet paper and now has to go buy a pack.
4/22 While I wouldn't say doomsday preppers, my family is pretty big into survival skills and food storage and all that. I guess I had a normal childhood, my family keeps food storage and we used to have some 50 gallon drums to hold water in before we had to empty it to move. I spent my childhood learning knot-making, camping, survival skills, shooting, and a bit of woodworking. My favorite story has to be when I went on a survival trip with my Boyscout troop a few years ago, and we slept without tents or food or a fire source and fished mussels out of a lake to eat. Life is pretty normal aside for my ridiculous stash of camping gear for Boyscout and backpacking trips. If theres anything I've learned from all of this, its that self sufficiency is one of the best feelings you can have, it's the combined meaning of hope, confidence, and strength.
5/22 I had a very good friend in high school who's grandparents raised him. They were pretty religious people, and believed fully and completely in the whole Mayan calendar doomsday thing. But they were christian. So, they saved up all this canned soup (because canned soup will save you from doomsday) and believed that if they hid in their basement during doomsday that they would be able to survive. But in 2012, when it didn't happen they took it a step further. They decided to move the whole family (3 children) to Utah to live on a secluded farm in order to save up for and prepare for the future doomsday. They believed that they would be told by Jesus somehow of the next doomsday and by hiding in their basement in their large house in the middle of nowhere Utah, their lives would be saved. And from then on they would have to repopulate with all of the people who were saved after armegeddon. My friend used to call my crying (keep in mind he was 15 year old kid) because he was so upset about what his grandparents were making them do. It was pretty [messed] up.
6/22 My parents got real into doomsday prepping from the time I was in middle school until the end of highschool. It screwed with my head a lot. They were certain the world was going to end or drastically change within a few years, and that life as we knew it would change completely, or we would all die. (Because the bible, duh.) anyways, it didn't affect my life that much other than mentally. My mom kept a huge store of food in the basement, and they would always lecture us on what to do when the world ends. The rapture was coming! Mostly it just made me feel like putting effort into succeeding was not useful, because we were all going to die anyways. I grew out of that eventually, when I realized that the reasons the world was going to end was just conspiracy. I'm pretty normal now, other than the fact that I'm helping my parents build their "bug out" cabin for when the world ends. I try not to think about that stuff too much anymore though.
7/22 I was raised by a common-sense prepper Father, and I am eternally thankful for the time he spent teaching us and training us the skills he did.
My Father was divorced from my (terrible) Mother, and had custody of all 3 children. He did not prep for the Big Earthquake, or 2012, or any other crap like that. He prepared for situations that we were regularly in danger of. Such as wildfires that would take out an entire neighborhood, or blizzards that prevents us to shop for close to a week. Or drought. But most certainly....he taught us self-sustainability to reduce living expenses, and to always have in our heads that another Depression or catastrophic agricultural failure WILL happen again.
So....he taught us how to grow all the produce we would eat year-long, including preserving for winter. He taught us methods of saving water, and preparing our gardens for droughts. He also taught us how to raise chickens, rabbits, ducks and geese, as well as fishing and hunting.
He taught us to always have a wood-heater with a cord of wood, or kerosene heater (with stores of Kerosene).....because the years he could not work due to health, we had to depend on that wood stove and Kerosene heater due to little money.
He also taught us firearm responsibility, how to make fire different ways, First Aid, medicinal plants, budgeting a savings just in case, etc etc etc.
It made for a very interesting and well-rounded childhood. To this day, I teach my daughter the same skills and mindset, regardless of our success. Better to be prepared than sorry.....
8/22 Lots and lots of extra food.. "Here's 5 pounds canned carrots that expires next month. We aren't eating them so you can have them."
Just imagine a storage shed with tons of food and that's mostly it. Nothing too [wild], they (some relatives) just had a bunch of food. And also a huge water storage tank. Everything else was normal.
9/22 It's pretty weird.
My mom is into it, my dad isn't. I don't remember when it started but my mom was really into Catholic prophecy. Back when I was maybe 10 she got really into it, she said that the apocalypse would begin before i was 16. She had this whole timeline, where there would be three days of darkness and a bunch of other stuff. It didn't happen.
She used to be into the idea of Nibiru, which is this planet that's on a very weird orbit that takes it very far away from the sun. When it comes near earth, it shoots comets at us or something. It isn't real. She also believes in something called killshot, where the sun shoots lasers at the earth. I'm not sure how that's supposed to work. She wasn't very into 2012 but she was open to the idea.
Recently she's been more into societal collapse type apocalypses. She invested tens of thousands of dollars in gold, because after the financial and electrical systems fall apart she will be able to access her vault and sell her gold or something? She said society would collapse July 2013, that didn't happen. Right now her end of the world date is this October! It has to do with China, and also God's punishment for gay marriage.
She doesn't actually prep much. She buys lots of flashlight and things, but i really don't think she'd survive an apocalyptic event. She's into herbal medicine, because after society collapses she wants to be a healer.
I never believed her, but it was stressful, because I never really 100% knew, there's always a part of me that says oh my god, what if she's right. But I know it's [nuts]. The main fallout is that she spends a lot of money on stuff and that every plant has some medicinal purpose she has to point out. I also know a lot more about conspiracy theories than the average person, and it has kind of complicated my relationship with religion. But overall it wasn't too bad.
10/22 My boss was really into the personal defence/weaponry aspect of all of this. Guns, Russian fight training, knife play, etc. It always made me feel like in a real meltdown he would be one of the first to be targeted because everyone knew about his collection.
I always try to remind people that we (the world) have been through some serious situations before and we got through them acting as a cooperative groups, not a bunch of violent individuals.
11/22 Not quite a doomsday prepper but I grew up in a church that believed the end of the world was literally going to happen any day. Remember the Left Behind series? Like that, except we actually thought it was going to happen. Everyone who was a Christian was going to disappear off the earth and then the earth would go through mass destruction.
The result of this kind of teaching is fear of being alone (so many times I thought it had happened when I couldn't find my parents), fear of the future (I was scared to sleep without begging God not to take away my parents that night), many of my peers and myself didn't make plans for the future like studying or trying to decide what we wanted to be when we grew up because we thought it was pointless. The world was gonna end so why waste time studying. A lot of people I knew rushed into marriages and children because they wanted to experience having a family before "the end". And just lack of patience in general. The thought of waiting for anything was hard because I never thought I'd still be here in a year, I felt like that since I was 12. I've struggled with depression, anxiety and panic attacks. Thankfully I think I'm getting over it now. Last year when I realized I was making plans as far as 5 years into the future without thinking I'd never get there I nearly cried with happiness.
The most prepping I ever did was when I saw a place that seemed like a good hiding place out in the countryside I'd keep it in mind as a potential hiding place if [everything goes wrong] and I was left behind.
12/22 My in-laws are the only people I know who could even come close to being described as preppers. My FIL slowly acquired various skills over the course of 30-40 years. He's an electrician by trade, a ham radio operator, he took up astrology to learn the ephemeris and how to read stars, woodworking and carpentry, he's licensed to own a handgun. He has Nokia cellphones stashed away, wrapped in tinfoil to protect against EMP. My MIL can make her own clothes; plants a small hobby farm's worth of vegetables every year; pickles, jams, cans and preserves all of it; she can slaughter a pig and butcher it.
This is just the short list. They certainly aren't the most hard core about it, but they still bring bug-out bags when they come to visit.
My wife wasn't raised a prepper. They did all this right out in the open. There are only clues that you can see looking back that reveal a pattern or long term plan.
13/22 Not raised, but I rented a room in a prepper's house for a few years. The guy was super nice, and didn't come across as [nuts], except for his massive distrust of govt.
He had chickens and food that would last them for years. Pros: fresh eggs every morning. Cons: chicken coops smell like chicken [poop]. This wasn't all that weird as we were in rural New Mexico.
In the house, there were a few closets completely full of dried beans and rice in airtight containers. Other drawers had MREs, various supplies you might take camping, etc.
To be quite honest, it was not at all bothersome and actually gave me a lot of comfort that, on the odd chance he was right in his weird predictions, we would be ready. I think a lot of people could be better prepared for disasters than they are.
14/22 Like others here, my mom wasn't a full-blown prepper. She's a woman who likes the idea of being prepared during an emergency.
When my mom got a big tax refund a few years ago, she stocked up on about a year's worth of non-perishable foods, emergency supplies, and we learned survival skills. Although we ate all the food not due to an emergency, but due to hard economic times, it was a major relief to have something to fall back on when times got tough.
Some of the weird things though, we had a plan to get to Canada, seeing my mom thought Bush was going to declare martial law.
15/22 My dad is an atheist doomsdayer. In the 80s, he thought there would be a race war. (He's racist, but not openly in public. Only his family really knows. He made a lot of "jokes" when we were kids, like when we did something we shouldn't, he'd say, "Dont do x. White people do it like this. Heh heh!" I know. So gross.) Later, he worried about the climate or whatever was in the news. He owns a bunch of land with a barn on it. It's where he'll go live off the land if [everything goes wrong]. When I was a kid, our house was "off the grid." We had solar panels in the early 80s. We had a room filled with batteries the size of car batteries. (They have since crapped out and he's trying to recycle them somehow.) We had a huge garden and canned a lot. He bought antique, wood and coal powered steam engines and horse-powered threshers (and draft horses) so we could farm without gasoline, should we need to do so. He saved EVERYTHING. He is a hoarder, but not the dead cats and trash kind. He saved containers. Scrap wood. Whatever he thought would be useful. He was [nuts] about waste and overconsumption. He had a system everyone had to follow in order to wash dishes with the least amount of water. In the Midwest, we didn't have A/C or central heat, just a woodburning stove. He heated all our bath water in the winter on the stove to save energy. My mom pretty much went along. He relaxed a bit over the years, which saved their marriage.
16/22 My dad likes to be prepared for any and all disasters that may occur, natural or man-made. He treated every day likeTHEWORSTPOSSIBLETHING would happen if certain precautions were not taken. As a result, I was raised to be very aware (despite the lack of likeliness of some events) of any and all dangers related to the following: stranded in the woods, stranded in the desert, severe weather, intruders, firearms, child predators, falling pianos, fraudulent checks, etc. Ultimately, everything was potentially very dangerous, and therefore everything should be approached with the most caution possible.
When Y2K theories came around, my dad stuck to that like white on rice in a snowstorm. He spent literally almost all of his free time preparing in anyway possible for what he saw as an imminent storm. Definitely spent New Year's of 2000 crying in our "fortified" basement clutching a gas mask surrounded by several years worth of food, medical supplies, water drums, guns, and ammo.
Even after the threat of Y2K faded, my dad kept up with the emergency bunker, and calls it a "hobby" instead of "prepping" now.
17/22 My mom stocked up on so much vacuum-sealed toilet paper, rice, and beans for Y2K, we were still using it over a year later.
18/22 I guess my mom is a prepper. Enough food for two years in the house, God knows now much else stored in various places on the farm. Guns, 4 gardens, tons of farm animals to eat... I don't know my mom is kind of [nuts] but life was pretty normal growing up aside from having to be home every time a doomsday thing happened. Y2k, start of the LHC, end of the Mayan calendar, and now that I love further away from home I have a chest freezer and generator thanks to mom and she often tells my husband and I we need to take off work days of major solar flares (her new end of the world cause).
19/22 My gf's father was a prepper. He used to make the family do evacuation drills at different times of the day; morning, afternoon, evening, middle of the night... He dedicated an extra bedroom of the house to non-perishable goods, like canned foods, paper plates and eating utensils, gas and oil, hmm, I'm not sure what else was in there. Oh, obviously guns and ammo. All the money he earned was put towards his stock-pile, except for a small amount for whatever he needed to last him until his next paycheck. He has a very well-paying job, but he wouldnt use any of his money to help my gf with, well, anything. She wasnt able to get finincial aid for school because she was still "dependent" on her parents and his income is too high for her to qualify. She doesnt want to take out a student loan. Shes 24 now and we live together, so shes no longer dependent.
20/22 My dad has always had the opinion that one thing or another was going to happen, and we'd all have to fend for ourselves against a government out of control, roving gangs of people, or even foreign military invading the US.
We all had to be prepared. "Beans and bullets" is what he called it, and it consisted of making sure we had adequate weapons, food, supplies, and shelter in a remote location. We'd spend entire weekends (or longer during summer break) working with other small groups to create a secure, secret shelter and storage of supplies in one location or another. It was always hard, hot, dirty work; but sometimes the target practice was fun.
From an early age, I would hear about the possible things that "all signs point to happening within the next few weeks". This sort of thing happened probably twice a year on average, and no matter how many times it turned out to be complete [bullcrap] and fear-mongering by the people profiting from the purchase of whatever the latest survival gear was - he just kept buying into it time after time. "I know I've said this before, but this time it's being reported by multiple credible sources. This time it really is about to happen." It got old.
Some of the possible things that were "just around the corner":
- The draft would be reinstated, resulting in mass protests, riots, martial law, and the end of life as we know it.
- The US economy would collapse, causing a run on the banks, mass hysteria, riots, martial law, and the end of life as we know it.
- The government would come take everyone's guns, resulting in mass protest, martial law, and the end of life as we know it.
- The current war would spread the US military too thin, and a foreign power would take that opportunity to strike, resulting in mass hysteria, and the end of life as we know it.
- The current war would turn out to be a "false flag" to distract us from the real threat, resulting in the end of life as we know it.
- The Antichrist would take power, resulting in the end of life as we know it.
- Any other conspiracy theory; take your pick, really; resulting in the end of life as we know it.
From an early age, perhaps around 10, every time one of these events was "right around the corner" we'd have talks about what might happen, the family evacuation plan, meeting points, and what might happen to us if "they" get us (dad killed, kids enslaved), and how important it was to be prepared, have a plan, etc. I remember these talks would scare me when I was a kid. Later, as the "boy cried wolf" over and over, it changed from fear to worry, to annoyance, to "sure, Dad, whatever" complacency, and finally to him taking the hint and not bringing it up any more. This was a slow change over about 20 years of my life from age 10 to 30, give or take.
My parents were together for about 7 years before they had any kids, and it was roughly another 10 before any of these talks that I can remember, but I'm willing to bet my mom had to listen to it all those years before as well. Her patience is unparalleled.
For the most part, my life wasn't too different despite all of this. I went to a normal school, did normal kid things, had normal friends. I just also did other things like spend time working on building shelters or burying stores of food and supplies; or spending a weekend roughing it with just some basic camping gear and doing some very basic pseudo-training with weapons. From about the age of 9 until I moved out on my own, we lived outside the city limits (because the city is the last place you want to be when all hell breaks loose), so it was tough making friends when you live 45 minutes from the school you attend. Y2K was a huge deal for my dad, although I only went as far as packing my camping gear and 6 gallons of water in the car when I went out to party for the night. Some time after my brother and I moved out, my mom finally had enough, and my parents got a divorce. The "beans and bullets" wasn't the only reason they split; my dad could also just be really hard to live with. But I'm sure it wasn't just a small part of the problem. Over the years (and for many reasons), my dad lost the respect of his family, and that's very hard to recover from. I'd say he's still struggling to recover that respect, and he doesn't always move in the right direction in that regard. We all get along now (even my divorced parents), and have regular family dinners and hang out. We still disagree on things from time to time, or even argue a little. But that's every family.
21/22 When I was a kid my babysitter was an older woman who really believed in doomsday events, I vividly remember her Y2K prepping. She bought ungodly amount of canned and freeze dried food, toilet paper for at least the next 10 years, and so many crates of bottled water. One of the things she had read told her to buy fruit roll ups because they were quick and easy calories that never expired. Well kids being kids we snuck into her storage and ate sooo many fruit roll ups, I mean hundreds of them. I remember being so sick afterwards.
22/22 I wouldn't call my parents full on preppers, but they are pretty much ready for anything. It all started with y2k. They were certain it was going to be full blown chaos at the stroke of midnight. My mother has since become obsessed with "society collapsing"... Her favorite show is the walking dead, and I think secretly she wants something awful to happen. They have squandered most, if not all, their savings, so I don't think retirement is going to be an option. The have safes full of guns, about 25,000 rounds of ammo, and they keep enough dehydrated food to last them at least a few years. They bought a second home way out in [rural] West Virginia, just in case " we need a fall back plan".
It's weird, I'll admit. I haven't lived with them for over 10 years, but my mom makes sure to call me and give me the scoop on the latest thing I'm supposed to be terrified about. Whats worse is that she is a conspiracy theorist. She only gets her news from Alex Jones and the Drudge report, which is a problem in itself.
She bought 100 bottles of some iodine that Alex Jones was schlepping...she dropped off a few bottles after the whole Fukushima thing. It's called survival shield, and she wouldn't take no for an answer, and she buys practically everything they offer on the infowars.com web site.
To be honest, I think she's losing her mind, and she's dragging my father along for the ride. It kinda makes me sad...she's so far out of touch from reality these days, it makes it difficult to talk to her. Every conversation turns into yelling at me for not "taking action to make sure my family survives". My poor father, damn it he's a saint, just let's her rant and rave. I think he likes having the guns, but the prepping thing is all her ideas and doing.