The power of the tribe

In amongst all of the reality shows that regularly hit our screens: Love Island, X Factor, Made in Chelsea etc., you may have missed one that made a return last year: Shipwrecked.

Returning after an incredible 7 year break, it was anticipated by 20-somethings like me who remember watching it on T4 (yes, that channel doesn’t even exist anymore – oh how old I feel!)

Disappointingly, the show crashed with launch-night ratings of under 300,000 and, with lots of changes and a generally easier time for the contestants than previous versions of the show (no Bear Grylls survival skills required!), it wasn’t that well received.

But, it got me thinking.

The show’s premise is this: there are two tribes on two different islands – the sharks on Shark Island and the tigers on Tiger Island. Both start with a similar number of tribe members and as weeks go on each island hosts new islanders for a day each, and then the islanders choose which island – and which tribe – to join. The winner is the island with the biggest tribe at the end. So basically, it’s a massive popularity contest.

You can imagine that this format means that people aren’t always as genuine as you’d hope – after all, there’s prize money at stake and so they want to be your friend so you’ll choose them and their island!

I love meeting new people – I’ve always been Little Miss Chatterbox and you can guarantee I’ll fill any awkward silence. But here’s what Shipwrecked got me thinking: what is my motivation when I come across new people? How much am I in it for my own benefit?

It’s so easy when we meet new people – at school, online, at work – to think: what can I get out of this? Is this person fun – i.e. do they make ME laugh and have a good time? Do they have the same interests as me?

Sound familiar?

It’s not so dissimilar to the Shipwrecked tribes putting their own interest (the money!) above the actual person in front of them.

But what if, when I next meet a new person, I didn’t think about myself first, but about the other person first. What do they like? How can I make them feel welcome? Are there any worries or areas that I can help with? What can I learn from them?

A tribe is a place of belonging, a place of acceptance and a place of welcome. The power doesn’t come from placing people around me that just make me feel good about myself. The power comes when the tribe is there for each other – it goes two ways, not one. That’s the kind of friendships and relationships I want. That’s the power of the tribe.

By Charlotte Hendy

Charlotte is the Discipleship & Evangelism Enabler for Girls’ Brigade Ministries. Originally from Plymouth, she studied Theology at Oxford and now lives in Sheffield.
Charlotte suffers from seaside withdrawal symptoms and dreams of one day owning a house by the sea!

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