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Life After SHTF – 5 Harsh Realities

On the threat of stating the apparent, when issues really collapse, life after SHTF gained’t be nice. You’d suppose this could go with out saying however based mostly on most of the feedback I learn from preppers throughout America, a few of you’re simply itching for a collapse to occur. You’re shopping for numerous varieties of gear, stocking up on assorted meals, and arming your self to the tooth, and patiently ready, saying, “let it occur already.”

You need SHTF; you need TEOTWAWKI; you need one other civil warfare.

We’re going to discover this phenomenon of some preppers wishing for the top of days. I’m going to ship, with the assistance of historic examples, some chilly, arduous truths about what life after the collapse will actually be like.

Optimism Bias and Morals

I don’t know why some folks suppose life after SHTF is one thing to want for. Is it fiction that creates this phantasm that the collapse will in some way be enjoyable? It’s comprehensible if that’s the case. Every time I watch Mad Max, I catch myself imagining that I’d be the one holding the gasoline. Once I watch The Strolling Useless, I think about I’d be one of many survivors. It’s no enjoyable to think about ourselves because the extra possible end result in these conditions—useless or undead.

Derrick James as Mad Max
I’m the one with the gasoline post-collapse.

However why do we expect this fashion? Properly, it’s not simply fiction shaping our views. Science has discovered that the majority of us are wired with what’s referred to as the ‘optimism bias.’ Research, like these by neuroscientist Tali Sharot, present that we’re naturally inclined to consider good issues will occur to us, even in dire conditions. In her analysis, she discovered that round 80% of us exhibit this bias.

It’s an evolutionary adaptation – being optimistic could make people extra more likely to take dangers and enterprise into the unknown, which up to now might have led to discovering new sources or habitats. However within the trendy world, and particularly within the context of life after SHTF, this bias can result in a harmful underestimation of the realities.

Many people underestimate the dangers, picturing ourselves because the exception – the hero, the survivor. Though this optimism bias may need as soon as been an evolutionary benefit, it will possibly now lead us astray.

There may be additionally an ethical downside right here. Needing a collapse means hoping for struggling on a grand scale. Youngsters going hungry, the aged struggling with out care, communities torn aside, and numerous lives misplaced. It’s not simply concerning the romanticized, rugged survivor combating in opposition to all odds. It’s additionally concerning the harmless mom who can’t discover medication for her sick youngster, or the aged man who’s left chilly and alone. Wishing for such circumstances, regardless of how ready you suppose you’re, is wishing for ache and hardship on numerous others. It’s a stark ethical stance to take, and one that every of us ought to deeply mirror upon.

True preparedness stems from a group spirit. It goes past private security to making sure that our neighbors, mates, and group members are additionally protected. The essence of prepping is hoping you by no means have to make use of these preparations however being prepared if the time comes.

Wishing for a collapse places private thrill over group welfare, and it doesn’t align with the true ethos of being a prepper.

Let’s have a look at 5 harsh realities that every one of you wishing for a collapse most likely aren’t contemplating.

Harsh Realities of Life After SHTF

1 – Lack of Life

When discussing a possible societal collapse, essentially the most somber and profound consideration is the lack of human lives. Whereas many discussions within the prepper group focus largely on materials preparation, we should confront and perceive the gravity of this inevitable consequence.

Pennsylvania troops in Civil war
96th Pennsylvania marching in Civil Battle.

YOU could possibly be the one who finally ends up useless. Even WORSE, it could possibly be your partner or your youngsters. For these of you wishing for a second Civil Battle, let’s use the primary civil warfare for example.

The American Civil Battle, fought between 1861 and 1865, stays the deadliest battle in U.S. historical past by way of American lives misplaced. Present estimates recommend that anyplace from 620,000 to 750,000 troopers died because of the warfare, with many extra civilians shedding their lives not directly as a result of conflict-related penalties like illness and malnutrition.

To supply perspective, the U.S. inhabitants in 1860 was roughly 31.4 million. If we take the upper estimate of 750,000 deaths, that’s virtually 2.4% of the inhabitants. Transposing this share to the present U.S. inhabitants (estimated at over 330 million), a battle with an identical fatality charge would lead to almost 8 million American lives misplaced.

It’s price noting, that of these survivors, 1 in 13 veterans had been amputees.

As we put together for unsure futures, it’s essential to pay attention to the human value that might accompany any vital societal upheaval. This understanding underscores the significance of group, cooperation, and prevention in all prepper methods.

When you’re wishing for a civil warfare, it’s since you’ve by no means been in a warfare. Nobody in the appropriate thoughts would hope for that.

2 – Shortage of Sources and Provides

The collapse of society wouldn’t solely result in a big lack of life however would additionally result in extreme shortage of important sources and provides. The photographs of totally stocked bunkers and pantries, usually glamorized in media—and in my very own media, if I’m candid, dramatically oversimplify the precise challenges of a widespread societal breakdown.

To know this higher, let’s return to the times of the Civil Battle.

Even with a lesser inhabitants and an abundance of agricultural sources, blockades and disrupted provide chains led to acute shortages. For example, salt, an indispensable preservative earlier than the arrival of refrigeration, turned a uncommon commodity within the South—usually extra worthwhile than gold. This scarcity noticed the costs of important items surge dramatically: a barrel of flour that value $6 earlier than the warfare escalated to an astonishing $275 throughout its peak.

One other chilling reminder is the Nazi’s siege of Leningrad. The blockade resulted in dire meals shortages, pushing residents to extremes like consuming wallpaper paste, leather-based, and in essentially the most harrowing cases, resorting to cannibalism.

Translating these historic precedents to right this moment’s context is sobering. Our trendy economies function on a “just-in-time” provide chain mannequin, the place items are produced and delivered virtually precisely when wanted. This method, whereas environment friendly, could be very fragile. Any disruption can result in on the spot shortages.

Grocery store cabinets could possibly be barren inside days, if not hours. Even regionally produced meals may turn out to be inaccessible with transportation breakdowns. Consequently, many might face the grim actuality of skipped meals, malnutrition, and weakened immunity.

The intricate internet of recent healthcare, depending on constant provides and electrical energy, can be in jeopardy. Important drugs like insulin or antibiotics could possibly be out of attain (3 methods to inventory antibiotics). Hospitals, already strained, might face crippling shortages, rendering even fundamental medical procedures perilous.

Worse nonetheless, with out clear water and sanitation, illness outbreaks—like cholera or dysentery—would turn out to be rampant. A shortage of hygiene merchandise might additionally see an increase in pores and skin ailments and infections.

This shortage units off a vicious cycle: Malnutrition weakens immune programs, heightening vulnerability to ailments. Illness with out enough medical care can then result in extended struggling and even loss of life.

A post-collapse world’s harsh actuality can be relentless.

3 – Breakdown of Regulation and Order

The muse of any functioning society lies in its means to take care of order and justice, guaranteeing that people can go about their lives with an affordable expectation of security and equity. This delicate stability, upheld by establishments, legal guidelines, and mutual respect, turns into exceedingly weak in instances of chaos.

In life after SHTF, one of the vital fast and alarming repercussions is the disintegration of regulation and order. The very cloth that binds communities and ensures the security and safety of its members begins to unravel, resulting in an increase in prison exercise and lawlessness. Historical past provides ample examples. The autumn of nice civilizations usually noticed an accompanying spike in crime.

Submit-World Battle II Europe, significantly in cities that bore the brunt of the battle, witnessed a marked enhance in theft, black markets, and violence. Infrastructure was destroyed, policing was minimal, and desperation drove people to acts they may have beforehand deemed unthinkable.

Equally, throughout the U.S. Nice Melancholy of the Nineteen Thirties, whereas many had been lauded for his or her resilience and group spirit, there was additionally an plain surge in crime charges. Financial institution robberies, thefts, and even organized crime discovered fertile floor within the financial desperation of the period.

people handing out food during the Great Depression
It wasn’t all communities serving to each other throughout the Nice Melancholy. There was numerous crime too.

In a contemporary societal breakdown, the results of life after SHTF can be much more pronounced given the dense inhabitants facilities and the complexity of city environments. With out the restraints of regulation enforcement, we’d see:

  1. Vigilantism: Within the absence of formal regulation enforcement, people or teams may take the regulation into their very own arms, resulting in unchecked and infrequently brutal justice.
  2. Enhance in Legal Exercise: Desperation might push many in the direction of theft, looting, or worse. Property crimes would possible skyrocket, and private security could possibly be at fixed threat.
  3. Exploitation: Susceptible teams, together with girls, youngsters, the aged, and marginalized communities, may face increased dangers of exploitation or hurt.
  4. Formation of Warlord-like Entities: Simply as we’ve seen in failed states in up to date instances, energy vacuums can result in the rise of warlord-like figures or teams who wield energy via power, additional destabilizing areas.
  5. Jail Breakouts: A possible missed side could possibly be the safety of prisons. With out correct oversight, there’s a risk of mass jail breakouts, releasing a large number of criminals again into society.
  6. Mistrust Amongst Communities: Belief, a basic social contract, would erode. Neighbors might turn out to be suspicious of each other, and group cohesion might disintegrate.

This underscores the pressing must keep away from such a breakdown within the first place and to work in the direction of societal options that make sure the well-being and safety of all its members.

4 – Psychological Well being Challenges

The aftermath of life after SHTF brings with it not solely bodily perils however profound psychological and emotional burdens. Past the fast stress of survival, people would grapple with the profound trauma of witnessing the struggling and potential lack of family members, which might depart lasting psychological scars.

WWII soldiers with shell shock
WWII troopers suffered from shell shock, later referred to as PTSD.

One of many understated challenges of a societal collapse within the trendy period can be the breakdown of communication programs. Now we have grown accustomed to on the spot communication, having the ability to examine in on family and friends with a easy message or name. Within the wake of a collapse, these communication traces could possibly be severed. The nervousness of not figuring out the destiny of distant family members, unable to establish their well-being or even when they’re alive, can be an immense emotional weight to bear.

Historic occasions have proven us the extreme psychological toll of crises. (Find out how to develop psychological fortitude.)

Through the World Wars, many troopers got here house with “shell shock,” now recognized as post-traumatic stress dysfunction (PTSD). Those that survived vital disasters, whether or not man-made or pure, usually cope with nervousness, melancholy, and PTSD for prolonged durations. In a post-collapse situation, a widespread emergence of PTSD would possible have an effect on not simply these on the entrance traces however the broader populace.

One of the crucial agonizing experiences can be watching family members endure, whether or not from sickness, starvation, or violence. The emotional ache of seeing a member of the family or shut pal in misery, coupled with emotions of helplessness, can considerably intensify emotions of grief, guilt, and trauma.

Added to that is the power stress of every day survival challenges, from sourcing meals to avoiding threats. Such steady stress can exacerbate nervousness and melancholy. The isolation that may come up from distrust or the sheer problem of navigating a modified world can additional amplify these psychological well being points.

5 – You Would possibly Not Just like the New World

When envisioning life after SHTF, many people, influenced by optimism bias, may think a contemporary begin, a clean slate upon which a greater world could be constructed. Historical past, nonetheless, provides cautionary tales that recommend that the aftermath of societal upheaval usually doesn’t result in utopian goals however reasonably replaces one set of challenges with one other, oftentimes extra extreme.

Iranian Revolution

Iranian revolution
Iranian Revolution of 1979

A distinguished instance could be drawn from the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Whereas the revolutionaries sought to overthrow a monarchy they perceived as corrupt and oppressive, the following institution of the Islamic Republic launched a strict interpretation of spiritual governance. The private freedoms that many had loved, particularly girls’s rights and cultural openness, had been closely curtailed. Many who had initially supported the revolution quickly discovered themselves residing beneath circumstances they hadn’t anticipated and yearned for the previous freedoms.

The Russian Revolution gives one other illuminating case. The overthrow of the Tsarist regime in 1917 was fueled by a need for better equality and an finish to imperial oppression. Nevertheless, the following civil warfare, adopted by the institution of the Soviet Union, resulted within the rise of an authoritarian regime that, beneath Stalin, can be answerable for purges, famines, and a reign of terror that affected hundreds of thousands.

hungry Russian children
Life after the Russian Revolution was not what many had hoped it could be.

In Africa, the decolonization actions of the twentieth century introduced immense hope for self-governance and prosperity. But, in some nations, the departure of colonial powers led to energy vacuums, dictatorships, and civil wars. International locations like Zimbabwe, which had as soon as been seen as promising new nations post-independence, confronted financial collapse and political repression beneath leaders like Robert Mugabe.

In all these instances, the need for change was real and deeply felt. However the outcomes underscore the unpredictable nature of societal transformations. The constructions that exchange previous programs may not essentially cater to the goals and aspirations of all its residents. Usually, they’ll result in unintended penalties, the place freedoms are additional restricted, and residing circumstances deteriorate.

So, for those who’re wishing for a world reset, know that the potential aftermath of a societal collapse might yield a brand new world that may not align together with your beliefs or hopes. Whereas change is a continuing in historical past, guaranteeing that change is for the higher requires extra than simply dismantling the previous.


The thought of life after SHTF just isn’t one to be taken evenly. It’s not an escape from the current however a descent into an unsure and probably a lot harsher actuality. From the profound lack of human lives, the shortage of important sources, the breakdown of regulation and order, the mounting psychological well being challenges, to the unpredictability of the brand new world that emerges—every dimension paints a sobering, frankly horrible, image.

Whereas we ought to be ready for uncertainties, it’s equally essential to grasp the depth and breadth of challenges that include such eventualities. The emphasis shouldn’t be on wishing for or romanticizing such occasions however on stopping them, on constructing resilience, and fostering communities that may face up to stresses collectively.

I encourage all of you to organize for the worst, however all the time hope for the perfect.


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