When I was a kid, we loved to watch a show called Candid Camera, a comedic television program featuring video recordings from a hidden camera of people in all kinds of contrived situations. Since those early days, “reality” television shows have become enormously popular. Like Candid Camera, these shows depict people in real-life situations, some of which involve dance or talent competitions, endurance races, and even survival settings.
One show I got hooked on earlier this year is called “Alone.” This show features ten contestants who are dropped off in a true wilderness setting with no food, water, or shelter, and among predators such as bears, wolves, and cougars. The goal of this competition is to see which contestants can not only survive, but also outlast all the others, while being completely isolated—truly alone.
I love watching the contestants exercise their survival skills as they make fires, build shelters, and forage for food. At first, most seem to thrive, quickly overcoming the physical obstacles and avoiding the predators. What really struck me, however, was how within a few weeks it was not the physical challenges that posed the biggest threat, but the lack of social connection. Most of the people soon became tremendously lonesome and even deeply depressed as they fantasized about loved ones.
In the beginning of the isolation, many would find strength from the goal of claiming the half-a-million-dollar prize money awarded to the sole survivor. Slowly, though, it became apparent that the prize money, despite their personal need for it and the potential life-changing effect it could have on them, was still not enough to overcome their need for human contact. In the end, the lack of social connection caused most to throw in the towel and remove themselves from the game.
Although we all have different temperaments and differing levels of social need—some of us tending to be more introverted or extroverted—every one of us has an innate need for some type of connection to others. The primal design of life is that people are part of a social unit; at first it’s a family with our connection to parents, siblings, cousins, and others. In times past, people took solace in being part of a clan or tribe, or even a village, with shared values and heritage.
Today, in this ever-changing world with such great social upheaval, a lack of genuine connection to others leaves many with a feeling of being adrift. Isolation is physically, mentally, and emotionally destructive. Thankfully, through the work of Christ, we can be part of God’s family—members of the Body of Christ with a genuine spiritual connection to others that cannot be broken.
If you find yourself alone and isolated, then take whatever steps you can to connect in some way with others. God’s words to Adam are just as true today as they were when He first said them: “It is not good that man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18)