I've watched several episodes of Doomsday Preppers and each time, I've had to turn it off because my stomach starts hurting and my blood pressure skyrockets. I get all anxious and twitchy and start yelling things at the TV like: DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING TO YOUR KIDS??? HUH? HUH? And then I turn off the TV and go suck my thumb in a corner.
My family stockpiled for 1988 (just in case some of us got left behind at the Rapture). We stockpiled for Y2K. We stockpiled after 9/11.
Our stockpiling was tame compared to the Doomsday Preppers I see on TV. But one thing remains the same: fear.
Fear is the driving motivation. And if there's one thing I know about fear it's that it begets more fear. Scared people scare other people and pretty soon, you've got a whole network of sketched-out paranoid loony-bins making radical, life-altering decisions and seriously screwing up their kids' lives.
Now, on a very serious and tragic note, I find it rather interesting that the boy who murdered all those children in Newtown Connecticut had a mother who was "something of a survivalist:"
Neighbors told CBS News that Nancy Lanza was a gun enthusiast and often took Adam Lanza target shooting with her. The aunt said Nancy Lanza kept guns for own safety, and had something of a survivalist mentality; she was worried about protecting her home if the economy went south.
I'm not convinced there's causality there, but I'm not about to ignore the mother's "survivalist mentality." There very definitely IS something about the survivalist mindset that breeds irrational behavior. And to pretend that children are not directly affected by their parents' paranoia is shortsighted.
As far as the Doomsday Preppers show goes, it's pretty obvious that some of these families consider prepping an entire lifestyle. Hoo, boy. TRIGGER ALERT. Raising children in an immersive, prepping lifestyle is, I believe, harmful to children.
Last night I watched the episode where a Dad uprooted his entire family and moved from suburban Florida to rural Tennessee because he believed a massive polar shift was imminent. THAT SENTENCE WAS NOT A JOKE. Real people are doing this.
Here's the thing: being prepared is good. I won't deny that. But even good things become harmful when the driving motivation is fear.
All you have to do is look at the depressed kids to know that they hate what is happening. And not just hate it in a whiny, teenage "OMG, Dad is, like, making us camp again." No.
These kids are sad because not only is their Dad mentally ill and literally ruining their lives, an entire camera crew is making a spectacle of it on TV.
I was so upset on behalf of these kids last night that I seriously wanted to call National Geographic Channel and ask them why the hell they were showing child abuse without stopping it?
Child abuse is NOT entertainment.
I'm boycotting Doomsday Preppers.
I hope you will, too.