The last train in the world - where would you sit?
Like thousands of others in Melbourne, I commute to work by train. Unlike those thousands, I’m not usually trying to pass the time by trawling Facebook – instead I am consumed by a much more dismal, yet more entertaining idea. If the people in my carriage, right now, were the only survivors of an apocalypse, would we make it?
It’s bleak, yes, but it’s also a fascinating look at stereotypes and group dynamics. Next time you’re on public transport I encourage you to try it. Who, on your bus, tram or train would emerge as the group leader? Who are the talkers, who are the ‘doers’, who would be generous and who selfish? Could you, and the people around you, rebuild a society?
Sometimes I get stuck on one person. Is the hipster in the corner all talk and no real use, or could he be the intelligence that saves us? How do we usefully integrate the high proportion of senior citizens - a microcosm of Australia's ageing population?
You see, the point is that on any given train, tram or bus is a section of society. Not randomised, to be sure, but haphazard at best, a group of people roughly representative of your suburb or city - and therefore of your roles and your politics. It's one of the great disappointments of life that if you get stuck on a desert island (or in our case the post-apocalypse train) you probably won't be with Colin Firth, Gerard Butler and a bottle of pinot noir. Life is unfair like that. So you have to make the best of what you've got.
The most important question, of course, is about you. What role would you take?
By examining this question I have learnt a lot about myself and the way I relate to groups. I am a natural leader but dislike the limelight, preferring to let someone else be the public ‘face’ of the group while I take more of a backstage, advisory role. I know I have a quick temper, but I am also forward-thinking and creative. Sign me up to design and build the shelters, but don’t ask me to search for food!
I’d love to know what others think – what role would you take on the apocalypse train?
Hi Lola, love this article its a really interesting idea and a great way to get people thinking about who they really are.
Like you, I would dislike being a public face but happy to delegate behind the scenes. I'd probably be the one running around checking that everyone was ok, getting water and tearing up shirts to bandage bleeding limbs.
I'd also be the one trying to reassure everyone and calming them down by making a joke or pointing outr bhe plus sides to our predicament.
Love your imagination and the way your mind thinks. Keep up the good work.
Very interesting article and as a sci-fi fan I can admit to having played this type of game before. It does bring to mind though that we can't always judge a book by it's cover. The one who is appears to be the weakest on the surface may turn out to be the one with the greatest inner strength.
Being an Empath, I do often put myself in the situation of those I am observing (real or on TV) and wonder what it would feel like to be in their shoes and how I would react in similar circumstances.
It's a very interesting, thought provoking concept. Thanks for sharing.
PS.. nothing wrong with Facebook BTW... like everything in life, you get out of it what you put in.