If you’ve made it this far in the guest series, congratulations: it’s the grand finale. AKA, the best guest writer in the game is here to bring you a stimulating deep dive, from, Allison (Kav).
Weekend’s coming up. You know what that means: a good bender.
By bender, I mean a weekend of watching an entire season of the greatest Reality TV show ever produced: Survivor.
And y’all are in luck, because I’ve decided to put my absolutely useless college degree to work and submerge us all in the psychosocial experiment that is Survivor, just in time for the new season.
I’ll also be giving you my two cents on how you, an average person, can win outside the game. Let’s get into it:
“WAIT Allison, I don’t watch the show!”
First of all, I doubt it. But if so, SparkNotes of the setup:
- Twenty people planted in a remote location, where they are split into two tribes and tasked with survival for 39 days.
- Frequent challenges (think races, puzzles, games, etc) provide winners with rewards and also decide which tribe is safe from “Tribal Council”
- At Tribal, loser tribes are tasked with voting out one of their members
- The final two survivors pitch why they should be voted the Sole Survivor, and the eliminated players decide who will win the $1 million grand prize.
See the room for strategy here?
Brainchild of TV God, Mark Burnett (creator and producer of Shark Tank, The Voice, and The Apprentice) the show’s been around since 2000 (that’s a whopping 44 seasons), so there have been 23 years for Survivor contestants to strategize the best ways to become that Sole Survivor and win the bag.
The motto of the show is Outplay, Outwit, Outlast: let’s dive into that a bit deeper.
Outplay: Be a Weapon
The first, and most obvious component, is to be an absolute weapon.
Survivor is a game of physical challenges; literally in the form of physical games and competitions, alongside surviving in the wilderness for 39 days.
Can this trait alone get you to the final? Maybe, but it usually gives you a target on your back more than anything. Take my favorite heart throb, Ozzy. In Survivor Cook Islands, he won five out of six immunity challenges, but his competitors voted him off the minute he lost an immunity challenge. Little too much time spent in the spotlight. TLDR: don’t be a showoff.
So how do you outplay? Be ~likeable~.
Get rid of your RBF and smile more. Maybe talk to people. Get them to like you.
You know who played the best social game in Survivor history? My girl Parvati. Parvati absolutely dominated Micronesia in ‘08 by–ladies, write this down–forming an all women alliance and taking out the men one by one.
The woman was an absolute charmer, and anyone who doubted her ability to win over her competitors, diffuse conflict, and cut deals pretty much always found themselves next on the chopping block. That ability to be bff’s while using the team to your advantage, friends, is how you outplay. Try that at your next team meeting.
Outwit: Be smarter than everyone
You don’t need an IQ over 140 to win Survivor, but you also can’t be an idiot. Every iconic winner has been able to recognize and capitalize on the strategic weaknesses of others, some just do it more maliciously than others.
We saw this in the very first season, Survivor: Borneo, with one of our favorite tax fraud kings, Richard Hatch. His essential invention of the Survivor alliance strategy gave him a leg up on his less observant fellow competitors and he manhandled the game. He walked around naked half the season–(effective distraction technique?)– and still managed to swing a million in 2000 (that’s $1,723,559.81 today).
Big takeaways: whether you’re on Survivor, pitching an idea, lifting at the gym, getting that rec letter, or deciding whether to hold the door for someone that ambiguous distance away, don’t be an idiot. Capitalize on the weaknesses of your opponents. Be smarter than that coworker, ally with the gym rats, actually go to office hours, and definitely make the other person walk-run-shuffle to reach the door, thereby owing you a life debt.
Always have the upper hand.
Outlast: Be an unproblematic queen
Survivors are nothing if they get voted off, and are nothing without the final vote of their peers to win a million dollars. Quite possibly the most important component of Survivor is to be so unproblematic that everyone around you wants you to succeed, even at their own expense. We are nothing without social support <3
In Survivor, this takes a seriously strong, but seriously subtle ability to manipulate. Let’s take my favorite unproblematic manipulator, JT Thomas. A humble cattle farmer from Alabama, JT is attributed to having had one of the only “Perfect Games” in Survivor history, in that he was literally never voted against in a single Tribal Council during Survivor: Tocantins.
How did he do this? By never inserting himself in drama, but always manipulating other’s dramatic emotions to take comfort in his own southern charm. Simply wrangled them like cows.
Maybe manipulation is a bad word. Think “persuasion” next time you manipulate your significant other to get you a little treat (for being so brave). Outlasting takes playing the long-game, and playing the long-game means manipulating whatever game you’re playing to your advantage.
Moo Moo Express
Who knows, you may see a cow on the show. But it’s more likely you’ll see one in central Ohio, because Moo Moo Express is everywhere. Anything from the Low Fat Basic to the Creme de le Creme they’ve got you covered. They’ve got the best operators working around the clock and free vacuums so check em’ out #ad
Playing the perfect game
What I’ve seen is that most winners of the show are a strong mix of “Outplay, Outwit, Outlast” +/- an amazing story of mental transformation over the course of the show.
Let’s take this with a grain of salt, though. Or maybe rice, cuz that’s what these guys get to eat for 39 days. At the end of the day, we aren’t all on a remote island being filmed for the chance to win a million dollars:
- Does knowing we have an audience change how we act?
- How does your personality affect how you outplay, outwit, and outlast against your peers? (hmu fellow INFJ’s)
- Are we born with an innate sense of competition, or is that a learned behavior?
- Could you realistically survive on a desert island?
These are all wee little questions you can pick on over a February weekend. Go out there and crush your competition.
The tribe has spoken.