What is Survival?- Part 4, by MuddyKid

I’ve asked the question, what is survival. Mostly, up to this point, I’ve talked about providing long-term resources for food when the stores are no longer an option. We’ve talked about gardening, foraging for plants, and hunting or trapping. This was just part of my journey in developing a means for survival.

Feeling Depressed, Looking Through Digital Window

As I had previously mentioned, during my time out in the woods learning skills and testing my gear, I was also reading anything and everything I could that related to the state of the world and ways to protect my family. After several years of this, I began feeling depressed.

Every day the news was saying something bad was happening in the world and this created a lot of fear. Then, with time, I started to question that, when I was looking through this digital window that is the Internet, the majority of what I saw was an ugly world. According to that, the world was almost entirely focusing on sexuality, aggression, and fear. I would then go outside and notice that my immediate environment was peaceful and green, neighbors would wave, and animals were running around. Then, when I went back inside to look through the digital window, to my surprise there was more violence, fear, and sexuality.

News About Survival

These observations, along with some of the books I was reading at the time, led to the idea that the news itself is entirely about survival. What I mean is, the news frames stories in ways to where other people died and we, the reader, survived. The news shapes how we see and understand the world. But what world are we talking about here? Could this view of the news relate to legibility? My immediate world was completely different from what the news was telling me.

The global world does have issues; I am not debating that. But, many of those issues only reach most of us through the news, along with potential stories about how any disconnection in the supply lines will impact us. Such stories range from civil unrest, EMP’s, economic collapse, climate change, nuclear war, and peak oil. Then, when natural disasters happen, the news focuses on how people strip the stores bare, which is a real concern.

People Are the Problem

But, the way in which the news frames these situations of supply scarcity also suggests that people are the problem. In doing so, the news completely disregards how business operates on the probability of normal consumption habits. To which it becomes useful to question, is it the people who are inherently violent, or is it the pattern of business efficiency that controls and defines our access to resources that is the problem? Maybe it is a little of both?

Society’s Dependence Upon Oil

Let me be clear, the story of peak oil only became a problem when technology emerges with the way society grew increasingly dependent upon oil. In the most basic sense, oil became useful for motors and transportation. Oil then quickly spread to agriculture for not only the machines that are used in agriculture but also the fertilizers that are used to grow food. This process then translates into the oil that we eat.

Then add on the supply lines through which the average meal we consume when purchased at the grocery store travels 1,500 miles to reach our plates. During this process of increased dependency upon oil, rural life and the towns that supported that life decayed. This in turn increased the distance and amount and reduced the quality of the food locally available.

Corn Not Even Edible

The effect of oil on the food supply production and transportation process has led to corn becoming such a huge commodity crop that corn produced in the way it’s done today not even being edible without processing. What this means is that the traditional corn farmer no longer produces a crop that they can consume.

The entire process then increases our dependency upon some other distant process and place that when things run normal, there is no problem. However, when there is any sort of disconnect, it becomes a crisis, and crises are a common theme for how legislation in this country works.

I often question that legislation becomes a priority in response to a crisis. But, let us not forget the ways in which high fructose corn syrup contributes to diabetes and other health care related issues. This type of sugar is in everything, and while the health impacts of eating too much high fructose corn syrup is not an immediate survival situation, continued consumption of this type of sugar certainly impacts our long-term survival during normal times.

What Survival TV Shows Are Really Showing Us

How does this simplified example relate to survival as we know it? When we watch TV shows such as the survival shows, the narrative frames survival as so hard and difficult that we should all be thankful for this system that continuously promotes and creates dependency, fear, violence, and sexuality. (Think of the TV show “Naked and Afraid”.) But, are we aware of what these survival TV shows are really showing us?

Many of the people on these TV shows do not really know what they are doing. (Some do, and most don’t.) We must remind ourselves that these TV shows are entertainment programs in the modern era that demonstrate how easy we all have it and how thankful we need to be for technology. However, if you’re like me, being thankful for technology is subjective. I despise what social media has done to society, and I think a lot of products made at an earlier time are far superior and last longer than modern-made products.

Reasons Some People Fail

I question one of the reasons some people fail on these TV shows. It seems to me it’s because, as a made up example, Rebecca from Kentucky may have real skills in Kentucky but her knowledge of the tropics is going to be a real problem that sets her up for failure almost immediately. It does not mean she cannot learn the how-to survive in the tropics. It means the TV show sets a window and geography that limits her knowledge of the environment and sets her up for failure. Such TV shows should not be an example to reference for a real life survival situation.

Let us look at it like this. What kind of TV show would it be and how could it contribute to modern society, if they filmed someone who has real skills in their environment and they tell this person there are no laws or rules, no human predators, and you can do what you want with what you have. The TV show then updates sometime later. At that later time, the person has a log home, an abundance of food, and an outhouse. They are distilling alcohol for medicine and enjoying recreation with a big smile on their face saying, “This is heaven!” Yeah, that’s probably not going to fit the narrative well.

Dick Proenneke

Many of you that live rural lives probably know just what I am talking about. And if you’re still not convinced, let us not forget the story of Dick Proenneke. If I remember correctly, Dick was 50 years old with real wilderness skills and set out to live in the Alaska wilderness for a year. He fared so well and enjoyed the experience so much, he stayed for 30 years. (Youtube it, if you don’t know the name.) The takeaway here is, life absent of the modern supply line can be done, it has been done, and your skills and knowledge are the primary tools that measure how difficult or easy that wilderness life will be.

The Human Predator

Now, let us talk about the human predator. Because when we really get down to it, the human predator is the other concern about survival. Mad Max is often one of the many fictional accounts of the worst case scenarios that are referenced so often in survival discussions. But, let’s break down some of the images of Mad Max. It is a wasteland that is dry, resources are scarce, and the people are violent.

To start, if the global supply lined collapsed right now, nature is still going to be green. There are and will be, as I have discussed, resources available that we think of as game and weeds. We may not have bananas in our region during the winter, but nature will still be here. Secondly, people are violent now. People experience food shortages now. These are not problems that are off in the distance. They take place every day.

But, in the Mad Max story and other stories like it, it’s the amount of people that become the problem. We then point to examples throughout history that provide evidence for these fictions. But, I have yet to find a long-term situation in history that describes Mad Max, other than fiction stories. As a recent example that is often pointed to, would we consider the situation in Syria as a short-term or long-term situation? Has the rule of law collapsed?

Tomorrow, we will discuss this issue of Syria and violence toward humanity, as we continue the topic of “the human predator”.

See Also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been another entry for Round 77 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
  8. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
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  5. A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
  7. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  6. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 77 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.


  1. The Dick Proenneke experience is a very good example of success. However, lets not kid ourselves on the ‘ do-able factor. To be sure he had some advantages that none of us will enjoy if true survival is needed. His skills were no doubt learned as he went along, but
    There were factors that made him successful in his life that can’t be copied, such as the fact that he had ZERO competition, for food, shelter and safety from the masses, not to mention, we have no idea of his failures, and make no mistake, Dick probably had more than his share of near catastrophic disasters that only dumb luck pulled him out of., he just didnt put them on film. We as viewers/ readers only got to see the polished version of his life. We didnt see how many times he had to start over to get the door latch right or the cabin logs to fit because of some unforeseen flaw or knot in the wood, or whatever. We didnt see him learn, and he learned without the pressures of the competition for resources that we all will no doubt have. Everything he did, he could do on his time taking as much time as he needed. We also didnt see him sick, injured or hungry, or chewed up by the massive insect hatches that Alaska is famous for. We didnt see him deal with winter boredom, depression, fear, anxiety, hunger or loneliness. He developed mad skills, and Id be lying if I said I wouldn’t want to live that life, But I am under no illusions that he had much more going for him, in his favor that made what he did possible, than any of us will, making him a sort of Swiss family Robinson we want to have, versus the tree fort we will all end up with. if at all.

    1. Dick only lived there for one or two full years. After that he returned every year for a shorter period of time. It costs money to buy supplies every year.

    1. @Alan, Great point! So, you mean similar to all the food we stock pile? Now, did Dick eat those rations up first, and then he lived off the land, or did he use those rations when living off the land was not as productive?

      @LO, do you have competition now, or have you ever when you went for a job interview? Because, that job allows you to obtain resources in the normal system, and I am sure there is some sort of competition for that job. So, how is a survival situation different? I am not sure that it is once we start to think about it….

  2. Shopping Malls last century were designed to create anxiety by making the exits difficult to find. Like riding on Interstate 495 around Washington D.C., one would walk in circles looking for an exit until to relieve your anxiety you brought something. The same marketing principle applies to television, some survival sites and more. But if the content gets too strong it has the reverse effect. Remember President Bush coming on television after 9/11 and saying people should go out and buy. ?

    Anxiety sells.

    My favorite line from the Dick Proenneke documentary “Alone In The Wilderness”, “It’s a toasty forty degrees” in the cabin.

    1. @John, awesome reply! Your comment is just right. Now, this also does not mean there are not real concerns in the world. But, you are clearly thinking. That is awesome.

      1. Right, there are very real concerns in the world which is why I don’t go out much … just kidding.

        Look forward to reading your viewpoints in the next article, thanks for the previous ones.

        1. Ps.

          I wanted to add “Anxiety as Selling” is only the surface, it probably goes deeper.

          But if television/schools/MSM are not showing real concerns other than to sell, how will people react if and when the veneer of civilization wears off or they become useless buyers? Is it as the actor Jack Nicholson said “‘X” can’t handle the truth”? What will happen to people mentally unprepared if and when SHTF falls, i.e. “SHTF Shock”?

          Regarding one concern, “The Human Predator”, the website https://vexmansthoughts.wordpress.com/ once had a series of articles he researched on historical massacres which I can’t find now. I read one and didn’t go back. Same with the book “The Rape of Nanking”, I read the first two chapters and put the book down. It was how much I could stomach reading at a time. Whether these would be considered short-term ‘frenzy’ pay-back killings or long-term situations, there are documented others that went on for longer periods of time throughout recent history. The Rhode Island Industry slave trade for example. With the Internet the info is available to anyone. I remember when Vietnam was heated a lot of eighteen to twenty-year old kids who were not prepared came back ‘disorientated’. The same for personnel with PTSD.

          https://shtfschool.com/blog/ by Selco is worth visiting.

  3. A lot of good comments about our society and what we have come to in regards as a people that can or cannot survive, regardless of what may happen.
    To add to some of what you had mentioned, there is also the issue with GMO crops and most will not produce seeds any more, so farmers or just people that like to grow a certain amount of their own food cannot get seed to grow next years crops without buying more seed. Yes, there are still some crops available that have not been GMO’d but it is not always easy to find.
    Some of those GMO crops also have created an even bigger problem in regards to being insect and/or weed resistant, the insects and weeds have adapted to these GMO crops and are now even worse then they were previously. Not good for anyone.
    On the (Un)Reality shows, most of them are scripted so there is no reality to it. The people are not necessarily actors/actresses, it is just that everything is scripted that takes place including who wins.
    Even worse have been some of the prepper reality shows that are really bad, especially in regard to the “judges” who seem to be arm-chair preppers that do not know anything at all. The best these shows have done is to show you what not to do, rather than what to do.
    Overall, I think you provided so good food for thought!

  4. The Holy Bible tells us that we live in a “fallen world” and tells us exactly why it is fallen! Accept the gift of Grace and Salvation thru Jesus and YOU WILL BE SAVED!

  5. Those that have survived in Syria(non combatants) have held on to the foundations family and their belief in God. These are the ultimate deciding factors for their scenario. Ours will be the same because those are the only things the digital masters can’t rob us of.

  6. “high fructose corn syrup contributes to diabetes”

    A clear case of HFCS derangement syndrome. Understandable all the talking heads of “health foods” have been claiming HFCS is some kind of poison. In fact it is merely sugar that thing which your body runs on. If you do not have sugar (glucose) in your blood you will go into a coma and die in minutes.

    But does it cause diabetes. Another myth. Diabetes is genetic, you get it from your parents not your sugar bowl. It is an easy mistake to make. After all you treat diabetes by adjusting your diet and limiting sugars and carbs that are easily converted to sugar. So it isn’t too big a leap to think that sugar must be the cause. It isn’t. But to further muddy the waters most people who are diabetic do not show symptoms until they are past their teens even into their early 30’s. Why? Mostly because they are young and show less symptoms and partly because they are active and without intent are in a exercise/diet mode that tends to disguise diabetes symptoms. So when they suddenly “get” diabetes typically after getting married and eating regularly and not running around and of course for women having a child and gaining weight it is not illogical to “guess” that you suddenly got diabetes because you gained weight and you gained weight because you eat poorly, right! Seems to make sense.

    But, no! You had diabetes when you were born. Perhaps you had some endocratic function when you were young and it just kept getting worse until finally it was obvious to you. And now you find yourself dieting, limiting sugar, perhaps taking medications and at considerable risk for other life threatening illnesses as well. So it makes sense to warn others about the devil “sugar”. And worse, because some author said so, about the devil “fructose”. And since HFCS is, well “high fructose” it must be the very worst. But it isn’t! The term “high fructose” was a marketing term thought up back when “fructose” was considered good, after all it is in most fruits and we all know a apple a day keeps the doctor away. But HFCS is simply sugar, like your table sugar, half fructose and half sucrose. But it has a huge advantage for food producers in that it is available in liquid form and cheaper than sugar from beets and cane. Therefore it is used in almost everything. Which really creeps out the paranoid food nuts. But again, it is just sugar and without sugar you will die.

    In a final irony, when it comes to survival, sugar is king. Cheap, lasts forever, high in energy, compact, stores well. As an ex-marathon runner who would eat huge amounts of carbs before a run, I can tell you that when it comes to energy, sugar is king.

      1. In fact the diabetes rate hasn’t increased at all. There are two factors that you need to know:
        1; about half of the diabetics in the U.S. are undiagnosed. This isn’t good because early treatment can save lives and a lot of other complications. So a few years back the medical community decided to actively seek out the undiagnosed diabetics by early testing. Great idea. They identified about a million more diabetics each year than they were before this outreach effort. Same number of people were/are diabetic but they were finding more of them who were unknown previously.

        2; Some races/ethnic groups have higher rates of diabetes than others. The U.S. is acquiring more of these ethnic groups (Mexicans, South Americans, Africans, etc.) So while each of these different groups rate of diabetes did not change the increase in ethnic groups with much higher rates of diabetes than Americans of European descent effectively increased the average rate of diabetes in the U.S.

        Now possibly for good reasons in a well intended effort the medical community has used these stats to scare us all into getting tested. Their hope is to identify diabetes before there are obvious symptoms and thus save lives and the many other complications related to diabetes. I am saddened that they allowed themselves to use statistical malpractice even if well intended. But I cannot control their agenda only they can.

  7. Muddykid, you title your last section today “The Human Predator”. I then looked back at your words on oil, corn, and food from 1500 miles. The people who sell us high-fructose corn syrup, oil in its many forms, and junk food are human predators. In the name of convenience, people shop Amazon. In the name of thrift, shop Wal-Mart. In the name of comfort, buy oil in its many forms. Perhaps those who unquestioningly patronize companies owned by billionaires instead of shopping with people locally are members of the category “sheeple”. If the shoe fits…

    Carry on.

    1. There is type I and type II. It is common to call type II adult onset diabetes. As I described most people realize they have diabetes somewhere between 18 and 35 or so. And of course some discover it much younger and some much older. But you are either born with a genetic predisposition for diabetes or you are not. When it shows up depends on many factors. But the more important point is if you do not have diabetes (either diagnosed or un-diagnosed) you can consume all the sugar and carbs you want and it won’t give you diabetes.

      1. OneGuy
        My doctor told me pretty much exactly what you have said. She said that I would get diabetes because both of my parents and all of each of their siblings have diabetes. I love sugar, and I’m a bit over weight. But she said that not eating sugar wouldn’t keep me from getting diabetes, nor would eating sugar make me have it any sooner. So I’ll enjoy it while I can, and when I can’t I’ll enjoy it in more moderation (she said as she eats a bowl of home made ice cream). My mother is one of 8 children and almost all are/were over weight, but the smallest of the 8, who has never weighed over 90 pounds except when she was expecting, also has diabetes. In my dad’s family, he is one of 5 and his oldest brother, who is in the best shape of all, has the worst medical problems, including diabetes and skin cancer (even tho he only wears long sleeves and long pants and wide brimmed hats any time he is in the sun).

        I think many of our ailments are hereditary. Maybe we should look not at someone’s outer appearance or their disposition when we are dating, but at their family medical history, and see what we could be handing down to our kids, before we marry. Of course if they are pleasing to the eye, and have a great personality, all the better. Just kidding, of course. 😉

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