Leave Me Alone!
If I haven’t convinced you to watch the show Alone on the History channel, probably nothing I say is going to make you watch it. But let me just say this: it’s the first show since Breaking Bad that has made me crazy.
Everyone knows that I’m a HUGE fan of the show Survivor – I’ve watched every episode of every season and will not accept calls while I’m watching the show. Most people are surprised to find that the show is still on – they thought it had been cancelled YEARS ago! But nope! It still has a big following of loyal viewers, though every season I expect it to be the last.
With this first (and possibly ONLY) season of Alone, I am terrified – terrified to watch it, terrified to see what happens, terrified to close my eyes at night after watching it, terrified that this will be a one-off and I’ll be left wimpering in a corner, writing letter after letter to History Channel begging them to make more. The show haunts me in a way no other ever has, and here’s why:
It’s real. Ten men were dropped off via boat or helicopter or float plane in the middle of freaking nowhere, which happens to be the tip of Vancouver Island. They were unceremoniously dumped on a beach, left there with their backpack to find a place to settle down. They are 3 to 10 miles apart, separated by water or mountains, unable to interact with each other in any way. Unable to interact with anyone at all, except themselves, the elements, the wildlife, and the 4 cameras they were supplied. They must self-document their experience using the motion-detector cameras set around their camps and the hand-helds they carry with them. If they move camp, they have to lug along 45 pounds worth of camera equipment.
Each man got to bring 10 “tools” – some chose an ax, some chose a bow and arrow, some chose a knife. Each was supplied with pepper spray and flares, as well as a radio to call for help (they call it “tapping out” because if you call, that means you quit and want out). You can look up online and see what each of them took with them. Their first order of business was to find a fresh water source. After that, they needed to make a shelter – some used just their tarp, others built more solid structures. They had to be careful – you don’t want to set up near a wildlife trail, but if they’re everywhere, it’s hard to find a safe spot! Then fire was next – not an easy feat in that wet rainforest, but you would be amazed at the tactics some of them used to dry out kindling and get fire going.
Once they were established somewhat, they could try to find food. Would you know what to eat in that bush? Would you know how to fend off bears and wolves and tigers? Did you know that you can tell how long till sunset by putting your hand up and measuring the number of fingers between the sun and the horizon? Did you know that you still have to boil water to make it safe even if it comes from a fresh stream? Did you know that cougars can smell 32 times better than a human? Could you eat slugs and bull kelp and periwinkles??
I’ve been alone in those very forests during my forestry days, and those hours away from the logging roads and the warm, safe truck – they were the loneliest, scariest, most desperate hours. If the sun was shining, it was beautiful and glorious, rays of sunshine gleaming off dewy leaves. Until you heard a twig snap nearby – then there was nothing glorious about being in that dense bush, and all you can think about is survival. Where do I go? What do I do? Think fast! Do I take out my pepper spray or my bear banger? Do I make noise? Do I climb a tree? And where the F**K is my partner?!?!
If the bears and wolves and cougars didn’t get you, and you managed to avoid beaver fever, giardia, hypothermia and starvation, your biggest enemy is your mind. After only 4 days alone, some of these guys are losing it. In the beginning I was so jealous that these dudes get to be truly on their own, but after watching their decline and trying to imagine myself in their position, I can’t. I simply cannot. I can’t imagine being completely cut off from everyone and everything for endless days, relying only on your own resourcefulness, digging deep for courage and the spirit to go on. Like them, I would start talking to myself, hallucinating, become hyper-sensitive. Hell, I do that NOW if I’m alone for more than a few hours! Thank goodness for free wifi at coffee shops!!
Yesterday my husband and I nearly got into fisticuffs over a debate about Survivor vs Alone. I was explaining to him that Survivor is a SOCIAL game, while Alone is more of a survival game. He disagrees. The way he sees it, Alone is MORE of a social game simply because the absence of society proves how much we NEED and rely on society to survive. Well okay, Freud, I guess you could look at it that way… *eyeroll*