Nuclear War Survival Guide: Find Out How Your Fellow Humans Are Preparing

–SCENE 1: “Discovery of the Manuscript”–

——(The year is 2019 and civilization on planet Earth exists no longer)

ENTER: Alien spaceship. The doors open, hissing.

——(The squad of heavily armored aliens clamber tentatively down from the smoking vessel. The leader signals to move forward and they begin to navigate the wasteland)

LEADER: (Indecipherable.) Subtitles read: “What the fuck was that?”

——(The leader follows the path of a three-headed cockroach as it scuttles clumsily over a piece of paper. They look closer, raising their protective masks to read the strange markings. Unearthing the sheet from the rubble, they raise it to the dull sun.)

LEADER: (Indecipherable.) Subtitles read: “It’s an excerpt from the Brandwatch Blog. The legend is true!”

——(The aliens hop and high-five. They have discovered what they came for. It is this blog post.)

—SCENE ENDS—

Putting together a Nuclear War Survival Guide with social data

At the beginning of each week, I sit down with our wonderful editor Natalie and we talk about what we plan to cover in the week ahead.

We’ll talk about what’s trending, what topics could resonate with our audience, what completely random thoughts have occurred to us over the weekend and, always, how we can use our data to save the world.

So, naturally, this week we decided to write a Nuclear War Survival Guide based on data generated using Brandwatch products. It’s definitely a trending topic.

How does one go about learning how to survive nuclear war using social data? We take a tongue-in-cheek look, because if you can’t laugh, what can you do?

Before we get going, we’d like to point out that the overall theme of this post is that we are all pretty under-prepared, and the tips you’ll find here if you’re genuinely reading this from a nuclear bunker will be sorely disappointing.

Step one: Looking to the influencers

The average person is not prepared for nuclear war. Who might be? Survivalists!

We used Brandwatch Audiences to find self-identified survivalists (people who have “survivalist” in their Twitter bio). The authors we found (1,700 in total) were predominantly male and seemed to be prepping for Zombie apocalypses more than nuclear wars, but we thought we’d see what they had to say anyway.

We exported a few hundred of the most influential accounts into Brandwatch Analytics to see what they might be sharing and discussing in regard to our bleak nuclear future.

To be fair, there wasn’t an enormous amount of conversation to work with here. There wasn’t so much talk of how to prepare for nuclear attack, more speculation about when one might occur.

In our first example tweet, @SurvivalPulse shares an article that uses excerpts from an interview between Alex Jones and Joel Skousen on how one might predict a nuclear war and when to evacuate large cities.

The second is a brief news report shared by one of our survivalist influencers, in which the inside of an old nuclear war shelter is toured by reporter Tom Miller.

So far, not so helpful, sadly.

Step two: The dedicated r/survival community

If you hang out on Reddit you’ll know there’s a subreddit for nearly everything, so armed with our new Reddit data powers we went straight to r/Survival to look for tips on surviving nuclear armageddon.

However, far from discussing how to outrun the blast, their conversation for the last seven days has focused more on bodily excretions.

It turns out the subreddit is more focused on short term survival in the wilderness, not a full on nuclear winter.

But we did find this survival blog posted on the subreddit with some helpful nuggets on building up the food we’ll need to survive a disaster.

Basically, if we start stocking up now we’ll avoid the massive rush to get to the supermarket when threats become more intense.

With a little time and effort you can easily put up your first 30 day food supply and then start working on your longer term storage plans. Make a plan with a budget and stick to it and you will come through most emergencies just fine.

While stocking up on food is probably a good idea, we’re getting the sense that so far our quest to build a Nuclear War Surival Guide based on what people are talking about on the internet isn’t going very well…

Step three: Vox populi

So. the survivalists haven’t exactly helped us out too much, but what are the rest of the internet talking about when it comes to preparing?

Listening to how other people on the internet solve life’s problems isn’t always a good idea (e.g. people who make cheese on toast by turning their toaster sideways, or people who straighten their hair with irons meant for shirts), but what the hell – surely there’s some wisdom we can glean from the general population of people talking about preparing for nuclear war…right?

Perhaps one of these snippets of wisdom could be the difference between suffering and surviving.

It turns out that people really are getting serious about preparing for a nuclear attack.

Others are less hopeful.

We looked specifically at ways people were preparing and stockpiling, and found some surprising results.

All solid advice.

More interesting, in terms of actually getting some survival tips, was to look in the top shared links. Here are a couple of potentially useful ones:

In these more serious guides to survival, one can pick up tips on how to hide, what to prepare, where to go to the bathroom in your new cramped shelter and when to leave it.

The Racked article is very specific, about how you should absolutely not use conditioner in your hair when you’re washing away the radioactive material.

We also found this graphic appearing again and again in “How to survive” articles:

Alexa is preparing by stocking up lots of wood, but according to advice from the links above popping out to the wood shed for fuel during the nuclear fallout may be a bad idea indeed.

Step four: Pop culture

Can songs and video games help us in this desperate hour? Maybe.

For a more immersive but admittedly not so realistic Nuclear War Survival Guide, one might look to the recently released video game Fallout 4 for tips on surviving radiation (and dealing with multi-headed mutated beasts when they emerge from their vault).

Meanwhile, music can be a soothing force. Earlier this year Matt Maltese released an eerily relevant song called “As the World Caves In“, about a couple in the final moments after the big red nuclear button has been pushed.

Listening to it after a few hours of researching this article, I’ve decided it’s not a bad one to kick off the nuclear war playlist – that is, if Spotify is still available.

And here it is, our final night alive

And as the earth runs to the ground

Oh girl it’s you that I lie with

As the atom bomb locks in

Oh it’s you I watch TV with

As the world, as the world caves in

Step five: Acceptance

Well judging by what I saw in the data surrounding nuclear war, we’re all woefully underprepared for any kind of nuclear attack.

We’re probably all going to die. Painfully and surrounded by people we probably wouldn’t ideally spend our final moments with.

Aliens, when you find this blog post, know that we all tried our best and went down gobbling chocolate and drinking prosecco, and we had plenty of logs to burn.

Are you a journalist looking to cover our data? Email us at react@brandwatch.com for more information


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