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What Cook Island Survivors Should Have LearnedPage 5
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4) Don't Let Your Emotions Control You
This section addresses both "positive" emotions, like friendship, and also "negative" ones, such as anger. Let's address the positive first and then move on to the negative.
The people you are with are strangers. You are stuck with them for a bit over a month, but you never really have to see them again (well, other than fund-raisers and parties and various other post-reality show reality shows, but you know what I mean). So treat them as pawns in a game, not as potential friends for life. As Greg said in the very first series, you might just have to break that kitten's neck. Or she might be trying to break yours.
In the first series, Susan thought she had a real friendship with Kelly, but she eventually saw through that. Those emotional bonds caused Susan to lose and to be viewed as an incredibly evil woman by many due to her final speech before the jury vote. The first series' Sean, the last non-alliance member to be voted off, noted before his departure that these were the "most conniving bunch of people I've ever met." He added, "there's not an honest one in the bunch." Finally, he said that they were "callous, cold, and duplicitous people." He was right. And the most duplicitous of them won.
Meanwhile, Colby made a friend in Tina. While she did end up giving him some money to pay off his debts, he could have had all of the money anyway if he had simply played the game. Gabriel, in the fourth series, came to start a commune and be friends with everybody – he was the first one booted off of his tribe.
Friends are great, but this is a game show. Now I already hear some people protesting, "But Ethan made friends, and he was a nice guy – and he won!" True, but he didn't allow his friendships to interfere with his play. He was friendly with a number of the contestants, but he voted 'em off, one by one. He made alliances and he stuck to 'em. He did not allow his emotions to control his game play. We can similarly look at Danni in Guatemala, especially her final move in the game – she was great friends with Rafe, but when the time came to choose friendship or money, she went with the money.
This is exactly the opposite of what happened to Ian in Palau. He made friends, especially with Tom and Katie. Eventually, they used that against him, whether as a strategy or just because they were upset. Katie repeatedly browbeat Ian into doing what she wanted him to do. And Ian simply could not live with the idea that he had disappointed Tom – so he earned a Reality TV Hall of Shame Moment by giving up in the final immunity challenge and throwing the game away. Just thinking about it still makes me ill.
Next we have the negative side of emotion – anger. Susan, in the incident discussed a few paragraphs ago, let her anger get the better of her and it interfered with the proper way to play. Lex did the same thing in Africa, and it got in the way even more. He also did it on All-Stars, of course, but by that time he was gone anyway, so it only mattered as far as the jury vote and his future relationship (or lack thereof) with other players.
On Survivor: Africa, Brandon so disliked Frank that he refused to be in an alliance with him, and it cost him a good chance at progression into the final four. Ghandia (another Hall of Shame inductee) really blew this one out of the water with her accusations against Ted after she had already discussed them with him and she had accepted his apology. She was simply too angry to let it be; thus, she was voted off.
Andrew was so upset at the Outcast twist on Pearl Islands that he could not bring himself to even pretend to be nice to Lill, which made her that much more likely to abandon Morgan and give him the boot. And several of the women were so determined to make a political statement in Vanuatu that they would not even consider aligning themselves with a man – which proved to be a big part of their downfall. And on Guatemala, Margaret and Judd so disliked each other that it became obvious one of them had to go – unfortunately for Margaret, Judd was the one with the alliance.
Meanwhile, Amazon’s Rob C. didn't like Roger, but that didn't force him into doing something he would be sorry for later. He had been verbally attacked by Jenna and Heidi, but when he saw that Christy's vote was unreliable, he had no problem approaching them with a new plan. Whether he liked a person or disliked a person did not really matter – he went with what he felt was the best game plan to move him forward.
So we have two sides of the same coin here. Colby allowed his friendship with Tina to cost him $900,000; Ian allowed his friendship with Tom to cost him potentially more than that. Lex allowed his anger to get the better of him and tossed off somebody who could have remained a solid ally for a while. Contestants need to achieve the proper balance and remain objective. This is a game. You wouldn't allow emotion to rule in a game of Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune, so don't do it when a million dollars are on the line. Besides, as Danni noted, that prize money can really help your family if you so choose – and you’ve known them a lot longer than your new best friend on Survivor.
As a side note necessitated by Survivor 2, I guess I should add that you shouldn't form emotional bonds with any animals, either – especially if they will be food. This was one of the reasons Kimmi ended up losing, though certainly not the only one.
5) Pretend To Be Nice/Keep Your Politics and Controversial Beliefs To Yourself
As you're making alliances, you have to pretend to be nice. It's like diplomacy. Keep your real feelings inside. In general, people aren't going to ally themselves with you if they think you're a jerk or you're untrustworthy. Look at Jerri and her behavior in the second series (for which she received a full induction into the Hall of Shame) as the prime example. Even if you do make it past that point and you somehow get down to the final two, if the jury thinks you're too much of an ass, you still don't get the big money (such as would have happened with Keith, had Colby used his brain – and as did happen with Clay against Brian, with Boston Rob against Amber, and with Twila against Chris).
One person who really showed how this should be done was Rob C. from Amazon. He recognized that Survivor is a game and that meant playing it – and playing other people. When others were pissed off at Roger, Rob kissed up and did whatever he was told. He pretended to be nice but worked behind the scenes to eliminate him. The same is true of how he dealt with Dave. For all the times we heard Rob talk about Dave, it was all in private. Until he saw the show, Dave really never knew about it!
But the perfect example for Rob is how he dealt with Jenna, Heidi, and Alex. They were convinced he was a friend for life. But he never let it color his vision of the game. He tossed Alex as soon as it became obvious that the alliance was a threat to him. He withstood a vicious verbal attack from Jenna and Heidi about how he doesn't treat people well. He got along with them when he needed to after that, but then called them both half-wits in his speech voting off Heidi. His private moments were the most revealing – but his skill in dealing with people was shown when he was in public with them.
Chris did something similar on Vanuatu, convincing Julie that they had practically a brother-sister relationship – she didn’t understand his true nature until the show aired and she saw what he was doing and saying behind her back.
This applies to politics and other controversial beliefs as well. As Kel noted in an interview with me, most Survivor players are not on the far right wing politically. So it's not terribly smart to start a discussion blasting gun control and the liberal media, as Frank did in Survivor: Africa, even if you believe you are 100% correct. Frank was probably going anyway at that vote, but it's still just not a good idea to give people any reason to vote against you.
Another good example – dealing more with beliefs than politics – was Peter of Survivor: Marquesas. His "holey" yoga speeches made others in his tribe think he was a fruit loop. He had already attracted their attention with his attempts to get everybody to vote a certain way, and his bizarre spoutings only made it easier for people to target him.<--Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Next-->
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