The same week that the Swedish government papered their cities with 4.8 million pamphlets instructing citizens what to do in the sudden event war should break out, residents of Lake Worth, Florida received a 2 a.m. notification that their electricity was being shut off due to “extreme zombie activity.” In an age of bombastic media coverage and panic inducing push notifications warning of impending tsunami waves or ballistic missiles, it’s not unreasonable to feel that the end is more nigh than it’s ever felt before. These are nigh times, and new research published in the Journal of Risk Research claims that one particular cultural movement is the literal embodiment of end-times anxiety, survivalists or doomsday “preppers.”
After researchers fanned out across 18 states in the U.S., speaking with survivalists of all degrees, a more nuanced picture has emerged of those typically painted as hysterical hoarders of canned foods, bottled water, and ammunition in the event that the United Nations declares a one world government. In actuality, the majority of survivalists are influenced less by Reddit threads and Infowars, but a general sense that a governmental response in the event of a disaster won’t be quick enough or efficient enough to protect them. This same fear, which is not wholly unrealistic when taking into account an event like Hurricane Katrina, is stoked by a 24-hour news cycle that would have you think an Ebola outbreak is imminent when, in reality, only four people were infected. “Preppers are often keen consumers of mass media news,” explains Dr. Michael Mills, who headed up the research effort. “Most admitted in their interviews that the coverage they see underlines the sense in prepping and the reality that, while they do not believe an ‘apocalyptic’ event is imminent, the likelihood of a disaster of some sort occurring cannot be ruled out.”
And all the meanwhile, technological evangelists in Silicon Valley are stockpiling Teslas and purchasing Penthouse survival condos in case their worst fears are realized.