“The Key to Survival is Mental Toughness!”

This is a post from a few years ago (April 29, 2009 to be precise), but I recently re-watched the show on Netflix, so here it is again:

“The key to survival is mental toughness. The difference between surviving and death is the will to live and a desire to push on.”

–Narrator, Out of the Wild: The Alaska Experiment

Lying on my bed, with remote control in one hand, a bag of chips in the other, I sat watching The Alaska Experiment.

The setup for this reality show is interesting.

Instead of survival experts like Les Stroud (Survivorman) or Bear Grylls (Man vs. Wild) trotting through the wilderness, this show has ordinary people facing the wilds of Alaska.

I have a healthy skepticism of television–especially “reality” tv, but this show doesn’t seem overly staged.  The cast has been given some level of survival training, but most of them are from urban or suburban settings with little or no experience in living in extremes.

The appeal for me is to see the adaptive transformation of people.  It is inspiring to see a group in a foreign environment feel so hungry, so worn out, yet they are able to overcome obstacles.

In the beginning, there were nine volunteers for the trek through the wilderness.  The twist is, the most experienced members were the first to give up.  Turns out, since they were the ones with the most knowledge, they couldn’t transition to group membership.

Frustration, anger and sheer pride caused them to lose their edge, and to quit.  Since it is a TV show, they just had to push a button and have a helicopter come in and pick them up.

In real life, they wouldn’t have that choice.  Either they’d have to strike out on their own, go off and die, or figure out how to play nice in the sandbox.

There was also one straggler that was physically unable to keep up, and the strongest of the group shunned him.

I like to be able to see this type of show, because if I have to face these type of situations out in the real world, maybe I can anticipate some of these problems, and prevent or minimize potentially dangerous situations.

Oh, what kind of chips was I eating?  I like Doritos Naturals Blue Corn Chips…

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