This week, Jack called Jamal’s buff a “durag” (which I learned is one of the correct spellings of that word). The controversial nature of this subject makes me wonder if I should even discuss it, though it seems the most relevant subject for philosophical discussion. Unlike Jack, I have the ability to review my words before going public. So why do people go on Survivor at all when the potential to make a mistake like Jack’s is so possible? Jack will now have to spend a lot of time mitigating what he said, not only within the game, but back in the rest of the world (and maybe for the rest of his life).
I suspect most humans are not designed to fully grasp that their actions will be seen by millions of television viewers, instead of just the people immediately around them. This lack of awareness also gets people in trouble on social media like Facebook and Instagram. I’m reminded of when the journalist Connie Chung wanted Newt Gingrich’s mother to say something salacious on camera. Gingrich’s mother wouldn’t do it at first, but then Chung leaned in and said: “Just between you and me.” And Gingrich’s mother told her the gossip. Even though they were clearly being filmed for a news show that was going to be seen by millions of people.
I struggle with this instinct for openness just like other people. We seem to be entering an age when more guardedness will often be advantageous. However, will this remove something fundamental to our natures as social animals? How guarded should we become? Will this guardedness make life more superficial and less satisfying? Although it’s often unwise to worry about new behavior being “unnatural” (since “natural” is a notoriously bad guide for ethics or life decisions), it might be helpful for each of us to dedicate some time to think seriously about how guarded we want to be. Especially if we’ve barely eaten for two weeks in front of millions of Twitter-ready Survivor fans.