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Surviving Survivor

After 12 weeks of episodes, it's down to the final four.  Who will walk off the beach with the million?  
And why on earth do we care?


A 12-step program to life without Survivor

Monday, August 21, 2000
The Globe and Mail

On Wednesday, it'll be over: Rudy, Richard, Kelly or Susan will walk away with $1-million (U.S.).

But where will that leave the millions of viewers who have spent an hour every Wednesday night for the past 12 weeks pulling for their favourite island castaway on the television phenomenon Survivor?

This Thursday, will reality-TV addicts find themselves so desperate they'll actually consider tuning in the housebound strangers on Big Brother?

Withdrawal symptoms are not impossible.

The parallels with addiction, while not outside the realm of parody, are striking, says Wayne Skinner, a social worker and clinical director of concurrent disorders at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, the largest mental-health and addictions facility in Canada.

"In terms of what the loss is going to be here, the show's ending," he explains, tongue firmly in cheek.
"You might say, 'There's an empty void in my life,' on Wednesday night. And the next day by the water cooler, when galvanizing over this, [you may discover that] 'The show was so appetizing with its addictive imagery and it satisfied me so much that life without it is hollow, and I'm not quite myself.' "

Are you this person?

If so, you have some options.

Try Mr. Skinner's 12-step program:
1. Admit you are powerless over Survivor; you are obsessed and lost without it.
2. Believe that a power greater than yourself can restore you to sanity. That power is not Big Brother.
3. Make the decision to turn your will, and your remote control, over to someone else.
4. Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself. Don't rely too heavily on the "lessons" you learned on Survivor.
5. Admit the exact nature of your wrongs. Did you miss your son's soccer practice last Wednesday? Did Wednesday use to be laundry night, and you've been buying underwear as you go for seven weeks instead?
6. Be ready to remove these defects of character. Stop watching reruns and harassing your co-workers with postmortems.
7. Humbly seek the removal of your shortcomings. Again, stop watching reruns.
8. Make a list of all persons you have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all. This might mean amends to your spouse, your laundry pile, or both.
9. Make direct amends to such people or piles wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. In other words, if Wednesday was your night with your significant other, and now your partner is sitting on the couch staring at you in open-mouthed disgust, now is the time to swallow your pride. Don't tell them that watching Survivor was more interesting.
10. Continue to monitor your television intake, and refrain from the phrase: "But it was just like real life!"
11. Meditate to improve your conscious spirituality and the qualities that television steals from your psyche, such as concentration, and long-term memory.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, carry this message to other addicts. "Go forth," said Mr. Skinner, "Saying, 'I am a Survivor.' "
Join the discussion on as well as finding the latest analysis and coverage of this summer phenomenon.

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