Kuta Beach

Kuta Beach

Saturday, 2 January 2010

How Survivor is Like Real Life

This blog post may contain spoilers.

I am a huge fan of Survivor. In Survivor Samoa, a contestant named Jaison claimed that Survivor is much like real life. When you go to work, you work in teams on projects to try to win individual distinction so you can get a promotion. Similarly, in Survivor you are grouped into teams and the project you have are the challenges. The power the constestants on Survivor have to vote people off is similar to real life in that in real life those people who network with others and form alliance end up stronger than those who are isolated. The immunity idol represents power and attaining the immunity idol requires work because players must either win challenges or find the idol based on clues given. Idols can be won either for yourself (individual immunity) or for the team (team immunity). This mirrors real life in that in real life you work for power both for yourself and your team, and this power protects you. Watching Survivor often I believe gives you the best education you can have on real life.

Let me give some concrete examples of lessons we can learn from Survivor. In Survivor Panama, contestants were initially divided into four teams. One team consisted only of old women. One of these women was a lumberjack and was relatively strong and hence very useful for the team. However, this woman criticized all the other team members, telling them they were lazy. The other team members did not like being put down like this so they voted the lumberjack woman off, even though she was the most useful. The lesson here to apply to real life is not to insult people. This I think is really obvious but it amazes me how often I see friends, co-workers, and family insult others and then excuse it by saying that they are "speaking their mind."

Another common theme in Survivor is that in the beginning of the game when winning challenges is important, those who are voted out are the weaker players who have little to contribute to the team. Toward the end of the game when the two tribes are merged and each players plays for himself, the stronger players tend to get voted off because they are viewed as threats. In real life, this teaches you that it is important to be useful in some way (e.g. have an education) so you can contribute to a team. However, it is important not to be too successful or at least look too successful because doing so will put a target on your back. For example, if you real life you flash your wealth by driving around in luxury cars and wearing gold wristwatches, you present to criminals significant incentives to rob you, for example, by simply attacking you on the streets or even by stealing from you using blackmail or extortion.

Survivor is like real life because in real life we are free to interact with others how we please but there are rules (legislative and social) that put limitations on what we can do. In real life, alliance brings power and team effort often brings reward. For example, one man cannot deliver oil to the world. Rather, a whole company that draws upon the skills of truck drivers, explorers, engineers, and so on are needed to work together to supply oil to consumers in order for profit to be made. The same applies in Survivor. Players are free to interact but there are limits on their freedom that come from the rules of the game and the social values imposed. Just like in real life, in Survivor alliance gives you power over others and team effort definitely pays, not in profit but in rewards you can get when the team wins challenges.

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