I read an interesting blog recently by Jack Flacco, a man who writes some well-written and convincing blogs (http://jackflacco.com/, he also has a book, Ranger Martin and The Zombie Apocalypse being released on the 22nd October). He postulated that during an apocalypse and the post-horror period, people would behave selfishly looking after number one. It really got me thinking and wondering if they would really be as self-centred as a lot of zombie horrors movies depict. TWD is a good example of a large number of suns and very few planets orbiting them. If we look at our everyday circumstance we certainly see plenty of evidence of this type of behaviour, so by extrapolation…
I am not so convinced. I certainly agree that there will always be bastards out there you’ll never be able to trust, not even relatives at times (or perhaps especially relatives; you know the old expression, where’s there’s a will, there’s relatives). I suspect that most people just want to be allowed to get on with their daily lives. An apocalypse would certainly upset that need for a long time, but in the end there remains a desire in most of us to get back to a status quo. How else will we achieve that end except by cooperation and trust?
Anyhoo, back to an article I found recently (by Victoria Woollaston, see the link below) that discusses some research from Pennsylvania’s Department of Biology in the School of Arts and Sciences. Two researchers, Alexander J. Stewart and Joshua B. Plotkin, looked at a game called the Prisoner’s Dilemma and worked out that the larger groups exhibit more cooperation and oftentimes display pure altruism within the overall dynamics. This, apparently, is because extortion, designed to help a single individual, does not succeed when played in larger groups. All part of game theory, apparently. It shows that the more generous a player is the more that player benefits.
Well, isn’t that nice. So, in effect Jack has a good point in suggesting selfishness as a dominant human response to adversity, as do I that altruism and generosity has a part to play in rebuilding human society overall. They are, after all different sides of the same coin. So, if you find yourself in an apocalyptic scenario, be there zombies or ‘just’ a contagion scenario, find a larger group to work with; as it grows, selfish plays are less likely to override the wishes of the many (remember the French Revolution, the American Revolution, the Civil Wars in the UK as well as the USA, …).
And if you see someone like ‘The Guvnor’, just shoot him/her, it is an altruistic act.