Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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There was recently a programme on TV called “Hunted” in which contestants tried to evade capture for 28 days despite the best efforts of a team of hunters armed with all the modern technology.
What is the appeal of such a scenario? It’s one person against the world, I think – can the little guy beat the system? – can the underdog win through? It touches on the same theme as Orwell’s 1984 – the battle of the individual against the system, the fight for liberty, freedom, choice. It’s a fight for significance, I think. We are each just one small person in a huge universe, and in the big picture are completely insignificant. But if we can beat the system, get the better of it, we can feel bigger than it, we can feel that we have real value.
It’s a big game of “Hide and Seek”, which children have been playing for centuries, and there’s something appealing in this both for the hiders and the seekers, of course, otherwise the game would not work.
Why is it nice to hide? Don’t we all want to be noticed? Being ignored, being insignificant, is a bad feeling, isn’t it? And yet sometimes the idea of disappearing can be very appealing. I suppose sometimes that’s about running away. If there’s too much stress, if you have too many responsibilities or there are too many demands on you, the idea of vanishing can be very appealing. That’s part of the attraction of a holiday, I suppose – to get away from it all.
This seems to link to depression. It’s a withdrawal from life, a disengagement from others. In a state of depression, it can feel like there’s a barrier between the world and the depressed person – a wall they are unable to climb – so they find themselves in a very lonely and isolated place. And horrible as that place is, it perhaps represents a safer place that the real world, with all that means for that particular person.
There are many different situations in which we do like to hide – to avoid embarrassment, or humiliation, or being a scapegoat, or being bullied. In seminars or meetings, typically the front row is that last that the audience will choose to fill – most people prefer to be inconspicuous at the back, or in the middle.
Sometimes we like to be noticed – at other times we like to hide. And most of the contestants on “Hunted” struggled to find the right balance. Hiding for 28 days was difficult, and even though they could find situations where they were apparently safe from the hunters, they would take risks in order to communicate with their family, or to score more points over the seekers. And I suppose there is a contradiction here, in that the contestants had chosen to hide on a national TV show. They had chosen to hide in a public way – in order to be noticed. And maybe, for the most part, that’s why we like to hide.