This week Survivor announced it was postponing filming Seasons 41 and 42 because of the latest coronavirus (a.k.a. SARS-CoV-2). Of course, that’s a trivial matter, considering how seriously this illness is affecting the world. I’m just getting the ball rolling on this blog entry.
The philosopher Albert Camus wrote in his novel The Plague: “Everybody knows that pestilences have a way of recurring in the world; yet somehow we find it hard to believe in ones that crash down on our heads from a blue sky… we tell ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogy of the mind, a bad dream that will pass away. But it doesn’t always pass away and, from one bad dream to another, it is men who pass away…”
Survivor is sometimes compared to the novel Lord of the Flies, which takes a very pessimistic view of how humans behave when isolated and removed from wider civilization. Watching Survivor for awhile, it’s easy to see why this comparison gets made. But in reality, Survivor is never isolated or removed from wider civilization. It’s a game played within very artificial parameters that has little bearing on life outside.
Thus, although it might be tempting to make analogies between Survivor and our current quarantined situation, this does not seem apt. A better analogy is Camus’s The Plague. In that novel, bubonic plague strikes a city. The residents are disbelieving at first, but when the seriousness of the epidemic becomes known, the town is sealed off from outside contact. The residents respond to this in many different ways, not all of them admirable, but ultimately Camus wrote: “There are more things to admire in men than to despise.”
I don’t think many of us will be voting people off during Covid-19 (except maybe politically). Most of us will be trying to save as many of our fellow humans as possible, some in small ways, some in larger ways. That’s all we can ever do (especially since the ultimate plague will get us all anyway, in the end). As a doctor in Camus’s novel says:
“This whole thing is not about heroism. It may seem a ridiculous idea, but the only way to fight the plague is with decency.”