Do the Undead get Lonely?

Awhile back, maybe two or three episodes, AMC’s The Walking Dead had an episode entitled ‘Alone’.  It propsed the idea of whether or not it is better to be with other people during the zombie apocalypse or not.  On the surface it would seem that being part of a group would be better.  A group offers safety in numbers as well as other members of the group may have useful skills that you lack.  In theory working together as a team makes a job like fortifying a house or other structure easier.  There would be more people to keep look out, cook, hunt, and search for supplies.

But if Robert Kirkman has taught me anything thing it is that zombies aren’t the biggest threat in his world.  That sole distinction goes to other survivors.  The governor and his group in Woodbury are prime examples of this, and there are plenty more over the course of the seasons.  Besides that a group can prove to be dysfunctional and cause more harm then good.  In a lot of ways Rick’s group is like that, especially in the first season.  In fighting and power struggles can do more harm then good.  Also there always seems to be a weak link in a group, a person or two t hat can’t hold their own and ends up putting the group at risk due to their mental or physical weakness. And then there’s bat shit crazy people like Lizzie…

I suppose it is in our nature to want to be in t he company of others, especially in a crisis situation.  That there’s a primal comfort to being around others.  I think the majority of us want to be followers and want someone in the group to take the lead.  Someone to tell us what to do, especially when we’re out of our element.  But sometimes the leader of such a group is inadequately prepared to handle the situation or make critical decisions.

Being a lone wolf in the zombie apocolpyse would be difficult unless you were skilled at being self sufficient and living/surviving in the wilderness.  I suppose a Les Stroud type would have the skills to make a go of it.  But few of us can handle life without wifi or cars or cable TV let alone a world filled with flesh eating zombies. And even if you had these skills they wouldn’t help you with the psychological wear and tear of being alone.  I think you’d be in a state of perpetual paranoia about being attacked and a depression would fall over you since your memories would plague you about your past life.  You would have too much time to dwell on what you lost.  Plus, would your own survival be enough to get you out of bed everyone morning?  People need something bigger then themselves to live for in a situation like the world of The Walking Dead.  I think being alone for an extended period of time would increase the probability of losing all motivation to carry on.  Where as being in a group, perhaps with family or friends, would give you motivation to carry on.  Take Rick for example, finding his family and then protecting them is his motivation throughout the series.  What would’ve become of him if he arrived in Atlanta to find out his wife and son were dead?

Personally, I think a very small group would be the best way to go.  Around 4 people or so.  A group that has a diversity of skills.  A smaller group could travel easier then a larger group, no need for multiple vehicles or that ridiculous RV that Dale had in Season 1.  A smaller group would also draw less attention to itself when traveling on foot. They would also require fewer supplies, and potentially spend less time searching for food/water and more time finding a secure location.  Each member of a small group would have to take on more roles/tasks and it would require them to cooperate more so if they were to survive.  A small group wouldn’t be free of problems, you’d still have the potential for power struggles and disagreements that could tear the group apart.  I think you’ll never escape that problem when it comes to people.  But I do think in a smaller group each member would be more motivated to survive each day.  They would know the other members of the group on a more intimate level then say in a group of twenty people.  You’d be more inclined to risk your neck for someone you know closely then some random member of a large group you don’t even know the name of.

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