Survivalist or prepper – is it just a matter of terminology? What’s the difference? Does it matter?
For a long time, the term “survivalist” has had a distinctively negative connotation in the media. The stereotype is perhaps best exemplified by the character Burt Gummer in the Tremors movies. Armed to the teeth but not very bright, stockpiled food consisting of mostly surplus military rations, waiting with bated breath for the day he can unleash his armory on commies, terrorists, and/or little green men from Mars, whichever comes first.
The term “preppers” is more recent. A friend of mine calls it “survivalist-lite” and that seems to me to be fairly accurate. Preppers aren’t necessarily planning for a complete and total societal collapse. They are concerned about being snowbound by blizzards for days at a time. Or power outages due to storms. If they are planning for “the end of the world,” they aren’t as concerned about ravaging bands of bikers as they are about putting food on the table for their families.
In various discussions I’ve had and heard, the dividing line seems to be the role firearms plays in preps. If you’re stocking up on guns and ammo for hunting, then you’re a prepper. On the other hand, if you’re stocking up on bang sticks to hunt two legged prey, then you’re a survivalist.
Naturally, there is a rather large overlap between the two. I know many people who are doing both, which isn’t a bad thing. (Personally, I lost all my guns in a tragic riverboat accident some years ago so it is a non-issue for me.)
At the end of the day, does it really matter which term you use? Probably not. But how you self-identify might lead you to take a hard look at how you’re prepping and make sure you’re on the track you feel you should be.