Our increasingly paranoid and status-striving society has passed a point of no return, where there are more young adults who carry around paracord bracelets and pocket knives to "prep" for disaster, than those who know how to change a tire and carry the basic tools to do so in their trunk.
You'd think that if they're paranoid enough to be prepping for a shit-hits-the-fan scenario, they would also be planning for the smaller and more predictable disasters that a well-adjusted person would worry about -- flat tire, burnt out headlight / brake light, cuts bleeding enough to need a bandage, and so on.
Yet they don't behave like people who are going above and beyond the scenarios that normal people already have covered, they are prepping for the apocalyptic instead of the ordinary.
You might try to rationalize their neglect of mundane duties by saying that the apocalypse trumps everything -- however small the probability, the magnitude of destruction will be more or less infinite, so it deserves sole focus as "what to be ready for".
But Haidt's research on moral reasoning shows that it is typically a post-hoc rationalization of a gut-level intuition. Thus, the preppers have a gut-level aversion to stewardship of everyday affairs, and develop a conceptual excuse afterward -- they're not negligent, they're actually prepping, for, uh, lemme think... for a far more disastrous scenario than those that trouble normal folks. Yeah, that's it.
So, scrupulously carrying a pocket knife, and updating their paracord bracelet to the newest model, serves to pardon them from, say, cleaning out the lint and debris that's clogging their fan or computer, learning CPR, and getting practice as a handyman.
As an example of how frivolous their priorities are, consider what they include in their EDC -- everyday carry, or things that are on them no matter what. Googling "edc" and "first-aid" gives half a million results; likewise for averaging the results for "edc" and "band-aid" with "edc" and "band-aids". Less than half a million hits for "edc" and "multi-tool". Yet "wallet" and "knife" get over a million, and "light" and "watch" get over 50 million.
It's hard to think of something more useless in a doomsday world with no tight schedules to keep, than a wristwatch. If you need to tell time, just look up at the fucking sky like people have for millions of years. Are you really incapable of telling whether it's morning, afternoon, evening, or night by opening your eyes outdoors? And if you don't have a good intuition for whether something happened five minutes ago or five hours ago, you are braindead and won't need to worry about surviving the apocalypse anyway.
Yeah, but how are we supposed to start a fashion contest over looking up at the sky? Wristwatches FTW.
Focusing on the cataclysmic also serves their impulse toward status-striving: prepping for the apocalypse is Real Serious Shit, requiring Advanced Tactical Gear, whereas any fuddy duddy can learn how to test their gas pipes for a leak by spraying soapy water, or carry a first-aid kit in their car in case someone gets cut. Pursuing the fantastic and spectacular is more attention-getting than tending to duties that are realistic and mundane.
Of course that also means that these preppers are just LARP-ers, having little to no training, practice, or experience. But hey, they watched a YouTube series by some guru who served in Gulf War, as though that were tantamount to downloading his brain a la The Matrix. Indeed, for all their rugged outdoors posturing, Neo is closer to their true hero -- someone who can become the ultimate urban survivalist badass by passively and instantly receiving the "content" of some cyber-guru, without having to put in any practice, go through any boot camp, or pass through any other rite of passage. Consumerism doesn't count ("purchasing my first multi-tool").
Perhaps that's another reason why they're so obsessed with watches -- they wouldn't be spending time doing anything real, and would have to engage in some pointless repetitive activity to assuage their anxiety and make them feel like they were getting shit done. Let's just keep glancing down at our watches, and hopefully that will allow us to just wait out the end of the world as we know it. Their "gear" is simply a collection of talismans and fetishes being stroked by the impotent in an attempt to feel capable and powerful.
Normal people recognize how useless these posers would be in a real disaster, but the preppers reckon rank by the upvotes they receive from one another.
Sadly this phenomenon generalizes to all sub-cultures in a striving climate -- ordinary duties are neglected in the pursuit of vanity points in some circle-jerking status contest.
Related post: doomsday prepping in the civic Midcentury vs. anarchic Millennial eras