And so we begin.
Out of the gate, maybe the most interesting factor this season is how many players were young and single when they first played, but now are middle-aged parents. How much will this impact their gameplay? Will they use more parental ways of bonding than their former flirtatious deviousness? Will they still have the same drive to win as when they were making their bones in the world? These older players might find themselves mentally torn between old and new ways, since previous patterns of behavior sometimes re-emerge when the brain is confronted with environments where that behavior used to occur.
I’ve wondered if the philosophic school of Stoicism might be helpful for these older players. Stoicism traces its origins to the Greek philosopher Zeno of Citium (not to be confused with the philosopher Zeno of Elea who developed a variety of paradoxes about infinity). One of Stoicism’s features is ruthless examination of a situation and figuring out what can be reasonably changed. That might seem to simply be common sense (and is a feature of many other philosophic schools), but Stoicism somewhat marks itself by its relentlessness in this regard.
A Stoic player might therefore accept the inevitability that old impulses will strike him unexpectedly, but also calmly understand that his current skills don’t allow him to play the way he did when he was younger. Maybe new habits combined with forgotten lessons from long-ago seasons could create a novel winning strategy.
Stoicism would also obviously be helpful for dealing emotionally with the hardships that befall players. A Stoic would accept the cold during long rainstorms with equanimity, knowing that he can’t change the weather. He would roll smoothly with the realization that an alliance was illusory, knowing that he tried as hard as he could to make it stable and looking clear-eyed to other possible ways of avoiding being voted out.
Of course, a good Stoic would probably not even join Survivor in the first place. The Stoics valued virtue above all else, so it’s difficult to see them choosing to play a game which uses a different set of morality than normal society. Especially when that game is so immersive and mostly for financial and adrenaline reward. Stoics were often good people, but not much for adventure.