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‘When The **** Hits The Fan’: The Eccentrics of Doomsday Preppers

They're a bit nutty, they're obsessed with disaster, and they just might live next door to you!

by
Chris Queen

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April 5, 2012 - 10:40 am
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Remember the frenzy surrounding Y2K?

In the years and months leading up to the new millennium, IT organizations spent billions patching systems and replacing software that had infamously been designed to support only a two-digit year — a problem dubbed the Year 2000 bug, the Millennium bug, or simply Y2K.

While the world pondered dire predictions of massive global infrastructure failures — everything from elevators to air traffic control systems were rumored to be vulnerable — the specter of a total paralysis of business operations resulting from cascading Y2K failures galvanized organizations into a frenzy of activity.

The Y2K problem threatened to tear our modern world apart — at least that was what some people thought. I’ll never forget friends stockpiling food and water in preparation for the certain collapse of our system of commerce. I actually heard grown men arguing like children over whose Y2K stash was larger. It seemed like, everywhere I went, people were obsessed with being prepared.

And then it was over. On Dec. 31, 1999, the world held its breath — and nothing happened. Jan. 1, 2000, came in just like any other day. There were no major failures to report anywhere.

In the aftermath, or non-aftermath, some pundits said all the preparation had been overkill.

I’ll admit it: there’s nothing wrong with being prepared for emergencies. In fact, FoxNews.com ran a helpful article just the other week about preparation. But the other side of the coin is that some people become obsessed with preparing for one implausible catastrophe or another — these folks have become the inspiration for National Geographic’s perversely fascinating documentary series Doomsday Preppers.

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Doomsday Preppers has a simple premise: preppers share how they are gearing up to survive the event or condition they fear will take place. After the preppers demonstrate their plans, a group of consultants from the organization Practical Preppers rates the preparations and offers suggestions on how to improve their plans. The show briefly revisits each prepper after they have made some changes based on the suggestions.

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