A few weeks ago, my husband and I signed up for the Discovery Plus streaming service to watch Janet Jackson’s documentary. When you first sign up for any streaming service, they usually offer a free trial, so the plan was to cancel after the free trial expired.
As we browsed through the app, my husband found the show Alone from the History channel. He had seen the last two seasons on Netflix when it was available there, but on Discovery Plus, all the seasons were available, so we decided to keep the service.
The show is about ten participants going out to a remote location – usually in the wilderness where they will have to survive off the land. They have ten approved items they can take with them, medical emergency equipment, cameras to record their journey, and a phone to call to “tap out.” The last person left wins $500,000.
The person who had lasted the longest in the show’s history, out of seven seasons, was 100 days. That’s 100 days of surviving out in the wilderness!
Well, as my husband would sit and watch the show, I would listen while doing chores around the house a lot of the time. And while listening to the journey of these participants, I learned three valuable lessons.
The Mind Is Truly Powerful
We know that the mind is powerful but watching this show further affirmed that. One of the main reasons participants would “tab out” and wanted to go home was that they were mentally broken, especially in the first season. It wasn’t because they got physically hurt or weren’t eating; it was because they mentally could not do it anymore.
They craved social interactions. They were missing their families and their daily routine. They no longer could be “alone” in the wilderness. I remember some stating that they wished they had someone else to share the experience to make their time out there easier.
Solitary Confinement Is an Inhumane Punishment in Our Prison System
Watching and listening to these participants’ experiences and seeing how they were becoming mentally broken reminded me of the solitary confinement punishment that is practiced in our current prison system. It made me realize that this punishment is completely inhumane.
According to Science Alert, “isolation has profound effects on the human body and brain.” The article explains that researchers found that the immune system of a person who is lonely responds differently to fighting viruses, which puts them at higher risk when developing an illness. There are also negative psychological effects like increased paranoia, inability to think clearly, anxiety, and panic attacks.
Prisoners report having long-term mental health problems after being in solitary confinement. One story that always comes to mind is the story of Kalief Browder. He was sent to Riker’s Island, at the age of sixteen, for a crime he did not commit and spent almost three years in solitary confinement. Shortly after being released from prison, he committed suicide. He tried to live an everyday life after being released, he even enrolled in community college, but he kept being admitted to the psych ward at the local hospital in Bronx, NY, because of his mental health. Solitary confinement should not be a form of punishment for prisoners.
We Aren’t Made/Wired to Be Alone
The reason why participants have so much trouble with isolation in this show is simply that we aren’t made to be alone. Humans are social beings. As stated above, they were craving human interactions, the only thing they had was a camera to record their journey, but that doesn’t help their isolation.
The Bible tells us we are all part of the body of Christ, in Romans 12:4-5 (NIV), “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ, we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
In other words, we all need each other.
It’s interesting what one can learn from certain television shows. I knew these three lessons, but the show further validated them and really got me thinking about how we were created and how our environments affect us, both negatively and positively.
Have you seen the show Alone? If so, what are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them.
With Love, Heidy
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