What if...?

Updated: Jun 14, 2018




Posing and exploring different ‘what if?’ scenarios is standing out for us as an important part of prepping. We are encountering two key forms. Firstly, there are the 'what if' scenarios that help to focus and direct prepping. These can often form prompts or justifications for beginning to prep, or to 'test' how well prepared we are. These can be singular or multiple, individual or generalisable 'what if?' scenarios:


What if an EMP attack brings down the electricity grid; what if I’m stranded away from home after a major terrorist event; what if a cyber attack disables computer networks and monetary transactions, what if I loss my job and can’t get welfare support.


'What if?'s in some ways function like scenarios enactments for state agencies in that they heighten the sense of urgency and provide a process for exploring vulnerabilities. The anthropologist Andrew Lakoff (2008) has identified scenario enactments as a central part of what he terms 'vital systems security'.


The second form could be called 'what would you do if?'s. These seem to be used in online discussion forums to explore moral boundaries in an imagined future where a SHTF event has happened, and preps are being put into practice. The purpose is not so much to drive or improve preps in the present, but to debate and explore the moral implications and responsibilities that might be encountered in the future, which come with being well prepared. A thread might start with the question: What would you do if...? What would you do if a single female neighbour with two kids who had made no preparations of their own came to your door asking for help? What would you do if you were chronically ill and in danger of burdening your family? The subject matter we have seen explored has included responsibilities to non-preppers, appropriate forms of bartering and actions in extreme circumstances including when to resort to cannibalism!


We'd welcome your thoughts on the significance of these forms of scenario explorations. Or perhaps this leaves out too much - what about questions around - what is more important...? How to...?


Please feel free to comment after reading this post. As this is a research website, please note that any comments made may be included in the research. Do not share your name or any identifying details. Your anonymity will be protected in any research publications.

11 views

Funding Partners

The Wellcome Trust, through Birkbeck ISSF fund