19 July 2012

The Vocabulary of Self-Reliance: SHTF, TEOTWAWKI, and WROL

If you read much about preparedness or survival, you'll encounter these three acronyms that represent the "event" for which one prepares. While they're often used interchangeably, they are subtly different. Regardless, each of these situations are why developing your self-reliance is a must:

SHTF: Perhaps the most common of these terms, this stands Stuff Hits The Fan. Of course, many people frequently substitute other "S" words — profanity or otherwise — for "Stuff". This catch-all term simply refers to a catastrophic event or disaster that one experiences. SHTF can be a relatively personal occurrence (such as losing your job), a regional event (like a volcanic eruption), or an international event (for instance, an economic collapse). SHTF situations are often temporary in nature or correctable, though that's not a given.

Related: Some people add letters to the beginning of the acronym to signify the point in time relative to SHTF, such as WSHTF (When SHTF), ASHTF (After SHTF), or ISHTF (If SHTF).

TEOTWAWKI: This stands for The End Of The World As We Know It. This is a also a disaster, but typically refers to something more cataclysmic, where life after the event is substantially different than beforehand. It doesn't truly refer to the literal "end of the world." Rather, the key to understanding TEOTWAWKI is the "as we know it" part. What's more, this refers to a change that is indefinite, or will last for an long period of time. In short, it's a change in circumstances where we cannot continue to live life as we hand, and don't expect that fact to change in the near future (if ever). Examples of this could be an EMP or CME event that renders much technology useless, or a large asteroid or comet that impacts Earth and changes the global climate. Either of these situations would very likely halts the wheels of modern civilization and radically change day-to-day life for any survivors.

Related: Occasionally, people refer to the EOTW (End Of The World), but that has a much broader meaning, more often akin to SHTF than a true end to the world.

WROL: Perhaps the least-used term here, WROL stands for Without Rule Of Law. Generally speaking, WROL describes a situation where you cannot count on law enforcement to enforce the law and protect citizens and their property. Typically, this involves a situation where the need for law enforcement (i.e., non-lawful actions and events) outstrip the available officers. This can happen following some SHTF or TEOTWAWKI events, or can simply be the result of widespread civil unrest. (Of course, there are some folks who feel that WROL is gradually creeping into our current civilization.)

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