True North Blog

“Reality Television” is not Reality

"Reality Television" is not Reality

Learning to survive, even thrive, in harsh environmental conditions is definitely not easy.  As one might expect, I spend a lot of time and effort learning about the art and science of wilderness survival, but sometimes it never seems enough.  No matter how much I learn, sometimes even master, the more I only discover how much I don’t really know!  It is truly a Sisyphean task .  But, heck, just like the Tortoise, I try to focus on keeping my pace slow, but steady, so that one day … maybe, just maybe … I may actually feel like I have crossed the finish line.

Lately, then, I have been giving a lot of thought to water.  After all, there are few things more elemental to life than water.

So, here is a piece of environmental trivia for you to consider … What is the biggest desert in the world?

That’s easy, Erik, it’s the Mojave.


The Gobi.


Okay, wait … The Sahara … Definitely the Sahara … Right?


So what is the biggest desert in the world?

The ocean.

Ironic, isn’t it, that despite all that water, just like Samuel Coleridge once mused, there is not a drop for us to drink.  For all practicable purposes, then, it is a desert.

All right, I admit, that is a bit of trick question, and I am playing loosely with the definition.  If you want the correct answer, it is Antartica.

But, look, the point that I am trying to make really has nothing to do with deserts, or even water.  It has to do with something idiotic, though absolutely hilarious …

Bear Grylls.

You see, in a spirt of professional integrity, I must admit to all of you that I can’t stand Bear.  It is not because he is arrogant and misleading (he is), but he helped to create and fuel a genre of “Reality Television” that at a minimum, has nothing to do with reality, and, at worse, can get people who listen to his advice hurt, even killed.  Arguably, it is already has.  Which is too bad, because there actually tends to be some merit in what Bear teaches, and there are a few other really quite excellent survival television programs.

So what is the hilarious part?

Bear Grylls’ very public broadcast wherein he gives himself an enema!

It cracks me up, every time I watch it.

Still, in all seriousness, there are a few good lessons in it.  So, soon, I will follow up with a more factual response and explanation, helped in part by wilderness medicine instructor, Jake Griebe, of SOWMAS, who knows way more about the subject than me.

For now, here is what must be Grylls’ most famous episode:

Okay, I admit that, just like Bear, I wish that I had my own clothing and equipment line!

Do you have any thoughts or comments?  Send us an email.  True North really would appreciate you sharing them for us to post.


Erik Kulick leaning aginst wall with True North badge on blue shirt

About the Author

Erik is the founder of True North Wilderness Survival School. He is a police officer, EMS provider, a Wilderness EMT, and a Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. He has been featured in national and international media, including CNN, the Associated Press, and Backpacker. To learn more about Erik, visit him on LinkedIn and be sure to follow him on Facebook and YouTube.

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