For years now, apocalypse culture has gained traction in the mainstream media. Whereas zombie movies were once easily filed away into the horror genre, they have since graduated into the realm of wish-fulfillment, depicting a world free from social obligations, credit scores, and cubicles. Sure, those things are replaced by hordes of flesh-eating monsters, but wouldn’t you rather shoot your un-dead supervisor in the face than listen to him tell you why you should be watching “Game of Thrones” again?

But as I’ve pointed out in previous articles, our modern civilized society has eliminated the need for most Americans to accumulate the skill sets really necessary to survive a zombie plague, national blackout, or heck, even if the rapture shuts down our incredibly complex infrastructure. Worse still, we’ve replaced those lessons with decades worth of bad habits as taught to us through pop culture, habits that are likely to get you killed if you attempt to actually put them to use in a survival setting. This time, instead of focusing on what you think you should do, I’m going to focus on misconceptions you’ll need to do away with immediately in order to place yourself in the best possible position to survive.

Communications won’t go down the way you think.

One night in the field, one of my younger Marines told me that he’d never seen the original “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” TV show. Now, I may have been a bit old for that first season of the Power Rangers, but my remembered passion for Voltron was enough to stick me to my seat each morning to watch the Megazord do battle with whatever giant monster Brian Cranston was playing that week (not kidding about Brian Cranston). Of course, before the deployment, we’d all stocked external hard drives full of TV shows and movies, so I decided to put on a Power Rangers movie night in the ALOC (Administration and Logistics Operations Center), which had a projector. The only problem was, we didn’t have any power.

As I low-crawled, extension cord in hand, past the entrance for the COC (where the command element and all of the high-tech gadgets they use to do their jobs are housed), it never crossed my mind that the big field generator parked next to the tent likely had a finite amount of power that it could produce. It also didn’t occur to me that if you exceed that level, the generator would shut down as a safety precaution. Five minutes into the first episode of “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” the ALOC went dark, and so did every piece of electronics equipment inside the COC.

It didn’t take long to get the power running again, but the abrupt reboot made it necessary to re-establish all sorts of remote connections with satellites and the like, crippling our COC for hours and really, really pissing off our data guys. They never did catch whichever rascal overdrew the generator.

The point of that jaunt down memory lane is twofold: first, to demonstrate how easy it can be for one idiot (in this case, me) to cause serious problems with America’s power or communications grid. All it takes is a poorly trained local employee handling an emergency the wrong way, and we suddenly find ourselves without power, possibly forever, depending on the scale of the emergency.

The second point is that having power does not necessarily equate to being able to communicate. As people get sick, disappear, or turn feral, it will become increasingly difficult to maintain our digital infrastructure. We tend to fear losing power the most, but survival communications could become compromised even with the grid still up.

The entire global internet, for instance, relies on a group of seven key holders to maintain the system that links domain names to IP addresses. These key holders are located in different countries around the globe to minimize risk, but it requires at least five of them to reset the system periodically and keep our internet tubes flowing smoothly. If three of them were to go down, it wouldn’t matter how much power you’ve got to your computer, or if your cable company was still up and running—there wouldn’t be any internet to access.