Naked and (Not So?)Afraid

naked and afraid

My husband and daughter are currently into watching the Discovery Channel show Naked and Afraid.

The premise is to match up two strangers, a man and a woman, strip them of their clothing, and drop them off into some wild, inhospitable place like the Amazon rain forest, the Nicaraguan jungle, or some arid African hot spot. They have to live off the land for 21 days, and make their way to a predetermined rendezvous place, where a helicopter will fly in to take them home. If they make it that far. They’re each allowed to bring one survival item (a flint kit, a small pot, a pocket knife, etc.); they’re given a Primitive Survival Rating before the event (based on survival skills and knowledge) and then re-assessed afterward.

I hate to admit it, but the show draws me in. It’s interesting (and entertaining) to see how these two buck naked strangers learn to survive together in these harsh environments, mostly because I have no survival skills whatsoever and would probably cry if I found myself in such a situation. Oh, and die. I’d definitely die.

Of course, since it’s a TV show, there’s no danger of anyone actually dying-if someone gets dehydrated or seriously ill, they’re taken out of the show. They can pretend it’s a matter of life and death, eat whatever they can get their hands on-fish, if they’re lucky, or small animals, but it’s usually snakes, scorpions, bugs, or half-rotten exotic fruit-and lose up to 20 pounds by the end of the challenge. But it’s usually dehydration that brings the producers in to save them before they die. There’s a safety net inherent in the whole thing. So while they’re naked, I’m a little dubious about the afraid part.

Even so, why would anyone put themselves through such hell? I suppose there are people out there who actually want to challenge themselves, to see how far they can go before intervention is required; most of the participants do make it the full 21 days-several pounds lighter, hungry, thirsty, exhausted physically and mentally-but proud of themselves in the knowledge that they have finished the challenge and could survive, at least for awhile, in the wild (one woman triumphantly finished, only to learn days later that she had contracted Dengue Fever, and would suffer for months afterward). Well, good for them.

Would I ever do it? Hell no! I don’t even like camping anymore, with our luxurious tents and sleeping bags, and a cooler full of store-bought food. I like my modern-day comforts like electricity, running water, and foam memory mattresses. If the apocalypse occurred, I wouldn’t last very long. I wouldn’t want to. I’m fully woven into the fabric of our modern life.

But the show gives a taste of what our ancestors had to do every single day simply to survive. We’ve come a long way on comfort and convenience (not to mention safety and health), but have traded something essential if our house-of-cards world ever fell apart: self-reliance.

What about you? Would you survive Naked and Afraid (Or the Apocalypse) ? Drop a line here and we’ll talk about it!

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