Reality Vs. Reality TV

Reality television has gripped the nation since the early 2000's, through television shows such as big brother. Reality TV has expanded into a multi million empire with no clear sign of stopping anytime soon. The natural progression of this has ultimately led into the survival world too with a range of survival based shows which are mass entertainment, as opposed to actual education/survival. 

Survival seems like a fun fantasy for many through TV 'survival' shows such as Bear Grylls the Island, with its flashy imagery and promises of 'survival'


The formula for almost every 'survival' show out there seems to be finding an individual or a group of people to go through struggles on some island, throw in a few catchy scenes, cue a night time shot, and the campfire not lighting and there you have it, 'Survival'

Episode one plays the introduction game, episode 2 is the apparent struggle to survive, and then by magic through a food source, or some other stroke of luck, on episode 3 everyone is suddenly saved by a magical blessing which makes them rethink their whole situation, forget arguments, and grants them the ability to survive for another week. 


Survival isn't 'fun'. A real survival situation is you staying alive vs dying. It's you working with nature, not against her. Blessings rarely occur here, and for even the hardiest of people they can be pushed to their limits and die. No place is inhospitable it's just that we may not of learnt the skills, or have the knowledge to survive in the place that we find ourselves in.

Survival is based upon a number of factors, in this article we will cover a few of those subjects.


Skills are based upon your experiences and how well you have trained. From fire lighting to shelter building, tracking wildlife to foraging, a number of these skills can be learnt, and be the difference in suffering throughout your ordeal, or having some minor comfort. One of the major skills I've honed greatly over the years is that of firecraft. Fire provides warmth, comfort, the ability to cook, this can be a huge morale boost, and give you a positive 'can do' attitude. 


The psychological boosts are a HUGE aspect of Any survival situation, and not given enough credit. A positive attitude, can keep you going throughout a survival ordeal, whilst a negative one such as giving up, or becoming lazy will cost you in the long run.

A hot drink, good food, even a spiritual sight such as a sunrise, can all boost your morale and provide positivity to yourself, and your group. A memorable experience of my own is when I was Trekking in Borneo, Malaysia. I was on a 5 day trek, followed by 4 days on a tropical island diving, proceeded by another 6 days of trekking. The trekking experience was a long, hard, and challenging one for myself. I was quite an angry 23 year old, and not used to being in a tropical jungle on the other side of the world! For my 23rd Birthday, my mum had packed a range of survival meals and snacks for me, which to this day, was the most incredible birthday present. For weeks, myself and others had eat rations such as crackers, tinned sardines, prawn sambal, and other basic rations that tasted like cardboard.

Amongst other gifts, inside my birthday present was a packet of freeze dried strawberries. I spent my 23rd birthday lying on my hammock handing them out to my selected group members. The strange dynamics myself and the rest of the lads had almost became family like. Looking back, this was a fantastic psychological experience to think about too. 

I placed a freeze dried strawberry inside my mouth, it melted. The flavour flooded my senses, I savoured every damn strawberry. This was a massive psychological boost and gave me such a positive outlook, after having such a negative one, for the longest time during my 3 months in Borneo...


Knowledge is similar to skills, but can take you into realms far beyond conventional survival. Understanding the complexities, the inner workings of the woodlands, every tree, every plant, the warning calls of animals, becoming an Entity of nature as opposed to an observer, changes it all completely.

Knowledge can be passed down, and taught for years to come, our ancestors taught us so much, which we lost to modern ignorance. The Bow Drill is a great example. You can create one coal, one fire, and claim you can use the Bow Drill, or you can study for years, perhaps your whole life, and learn about its secrets. Recognising the smells of different woods, learning the muscle memory of the bow, giving life to the ember, time and time again. This is all knowledge, that can't just be learnt over night. 


From all the doom and gloom, and cold hard reality of this article, there is actually hope and a nod to the average person within all this. Humanity is hardwired to survive, our will is to survive, you don't have to be some expert, in order to get a basic shelter built...You have to have the will power to survive though. You have to have the drive to keep pushing, to see another day, no matter what you have faced, or what you're currently going through. 

Remember. You're human, and that's enough to survive.

As always, 

Stay Alert
- Luke

Author: Luke

Luke has trained world over, honing his survival skills from the jungles of Borneo, to the Pacific Northwest in America. Luke's speciality lies within the bow drill and herbalism. Recently Luke has focused his main skills towards primitive first aid.


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