Right now, prepping is seen by society at large as strange and a little silly. Shows like “Doomsday Preppers” has given prepping a bad name, making us seem like paranoid but harmless eccentrics. The average citizen sees no need to “prep”, since he assumes that everything he needs will always be immediately available via local stores and fast shipping from internet companies. So average Joe has a low opinion of us preppers.
When the SHTF, I mean when some severe disaster with long-lasting effects strikes the nation, all that will change. First of all, many more people will suddenly see the benefits to prepping. It will be seen as prudent reasonable emergency preparedness, and long-time preppers will be seen as a source of much needed knowledge and experience on the topic. Nice.
But one downside is that a rush of persons newly-entering the field of prepping will buy up much of the available products. Prepping companies will frequently run out of many items, and have difficulty restocking. And this problem will give rise to one type of controversy. The people who still decline to prep will be upset that the grocery store shelves are bare of certain items (foods that store well). They will complain that batteries and other useful prepping supplies are now often out of stock. Preppers will be seen as disrupting the steady supply of goods that non-preppers foolishly assumed would always be available.
In that situation, you might find that some of your friends and acquaintances insist you share your food with them. But they are unlikely to be content with survival rations (e.g. rice and vegetable oil). You can only store so much food, so you can only share that food charitably with relatively few persons. You can afford to feed everyone they know from stored food. So I think preppers are going to be very unpopular with many persons. You will find out who is and is not truly a friend.
Another downside will be the dichotomy in society between those who prep and those who don’t. If you have plenty of food stored up, and your neighbors do not, they might characterize you as unfairly “hoarding” food. If you have food and they run out of food, they might demand food from you, on the basis of a claim that hoarding food is unfair. (Fortunately, non-preppers usually fail to store up both food and firearms.) I can imagine that those pestilent anonymous internet commentators will have some cruel and ignorant things to say about preppers. The mass media might take a dim view of storing up plenty of food.
Of course, prepping is not hoarding; it is prudent preparation for inevitable disasters. But while many people will join us in prepping, once the SHTF, certainly some others will villainize prepping instead. This could eventually result in laws against storing more than a certain amount of food and supplies, or in local officials attempting to impose some type of regulations on prepping. They might try to outlaw (or tax) bartering, or require a license. It’s conceivable that some government entity might pass a law confiscating “excess” food stores. Does this seem unlikely? Consider that the Gold Reserve Act of 1934 outlawed possession of gold by U.S. citizens, forcing its sale to (or confiscation by) the government. Wikipedia says that “By 1975 Americans could again freely own and trade gold.”
A severe food shortage will make prepping controversial. The response of the internet and mass media will be to complain bitterly. But the response of the government (federal, state, local) will undoubtedly include new laws unfavorable to prepping. So prepping will eventually become a widely-discussed and controversial topic in society.