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No one ever saves the web designer

They sometimes made us play a game in school. (Although school is the real game.) The teacher would hand out a flyer describing the problem which was this: 12 people with 12 different occupations are stranded on a desert island that can only support 6 people. Who gets to stay on the island? Of course, they never explained how we were going to get rid of the other 6 people. Drowning? An “accidental” blow to the head in the coconut grove?

The survivors occupations were something like this: doctor, lawyer, small electronics repair man, plumber, realtor, etc. etc. Which got me thinking – if I were placed in the scenario, I’d better learn how to swim. “But I know CSS!” is not a winning argument against the person who knows how to suture.

Sometimes I wonder how I would fare if the world sunk into a post-apocalyptic nightmare. You know, if the economy totally collapses and I had to fight off neighbors who wanted to eat my cats. That sort of thing. I don’t think I’d do well. I’ve been trained how to survive in a civilized world, how to budget my income and use a coffee maker and properly format a business letter. But these skills are rather useless if all the rules are thrown out the window and I were to face people bigger and badder than me who had guns.

Which is why I hope civilization does not collapse. I would be so screwed. No one ever saves the web designer.

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34 Comments

Meg • March 10, 2009 at 9:07 am

This is exactly why I never really understood the show Survivor. I mean seriously? If these guys were *actually* trying to survive on the island it would be a *whole* lot more interesting, and *totally* different people would get voted off!

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Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach • March 10, 2009 at 9:55 am

“But these skills are rather useless if all the rules are thrown out the window and I were to face people bigger and badder than me who had guns.”

Indeed. Makes you want to learn survivalist techniques at the very least.

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Pam • March 10, 2009 at 10:07 am

Reminds me of the lawyer joke I just heard on Car Talk:

A lawyer and an IRS agent are drowning. Do you: (a) go to lunch (b) read the paper?

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David Crowell • March 10, 2009 at 10:09 am

Not that this would help much against someone bent on taking your stuff, or killing you, but in the more likely scenario of just taking care of yourself, you would probably learn how to make your own things and grow your own food.

Survival is a strong instinct. Despite society’s attempt to make us specialize, homo sapiens is actually rather good at being flexible and adapting to new circumstances.

Us IT people won’t have computers anymore, and therefore will actually have the time to learn new things. :)

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psychsarah • March 10, 2009 at 10:10 am

Tee hee-I don’t think anyone would save me either. I am fairly useless at “survival”-poor sense of direction, no camping abilities, no aggressive tendencies to support fighting for my food/life… I always tell my husband that in the case of a major natural disaster or apocolypse, he better stick close by my side! He grew up in a very rustic lifestyle so he knows stuff life how to start a fire with sticks, he has martial arts training, he can build/fix anything, and can find his way anywhere. Generally a handy skill set in such circumstances…

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that you and I don’t end up on a desert island together!

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corrie • March 10, 2009 at 10:18 am

I love this post!

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Merry • March 10, 2009 at 10:57 am

Sadly, tech writers are right behind web designers in survivability.

My plan is to find a sugar daddy.

One who is attracted to frumpy English Major types.

“All I want is a man who is kind and understanding. Is that too much to ask of a millionaire?” – Zsa Zsa Gabor

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G • March 10, 2009 at 11:15 am

I think sound designers and composers aren’t too far behind web designers as far as survivability goes! At least I might have a chance as I can use my guitars and violins as weapons if I had to! ha

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Lia • March 10, 2009 at 11:46 am

Well, I guess I’m on the upper end of the food chain then- lawyers know how to survive!

(What would you do if a lawyer fell overboard into shark infested waters?

- Save the sharks.)

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Tanya • March 10, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Hmmm, I wonder how I would fare. I’m an accounting-person-turned-housewife, but I like to read survivalist stuff. My problem is I’m lazy, but if I had to, I think I could survive. I hope so, anyway!

PS-I also married a man who can do just about everything, so that would probably help. And my Dad keeps his guns at our house, so that would probably help fend off any people who wanted to eat my cats…mwah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

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Becca • March 10, 2009 at 1:03 pm

I’ll team up with you and fight them off (I’m a magazine editor, they’ll try to eat me too)

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Rachie • March 10, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Yeah, nobody ever saves indexer/writer, either. I guess we should just lie and say we’re in architecture or guided wilderness tours. :)

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Barb Cooper • March 10, 2009 at 1:33 pm

It’s funny, my first response was…yeah, no one ever saves the WRITER either.

But now that I think about it, I think anyone who could keep the computers going would be in high demand, especially for the BAZILLION bloggers in the world. I can see us all standing around, post apocalypse, “But DUDE, how am I supposed to BLOG ABOUT THIS???”

“WHAT ABOUT MY NEEDS??”

(UM, yeah, diet’s going really well. Why do you ask?)

(Okay, sorry about the excess use of capitalization.)

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Allison • March 10, 2009 at 1:36 pm

I doubt they would bother saving programmers, unless there was a computer on the island or something and I could potentially use it to send out a distress signal by building a java application!

On the other hand though–why bother saving the lawyer? What are they going to do to help anyone survive on an island? Draft up wills for the people that don’t make it? I think doctor would be number 1 and then anyone with any survival training.

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maggieapril • March 10, 2009 at 1:41 pm

I’ve always said that if I had to kill my own food I would have to be a vegetarian.

Fortunately, I wouldn’t starve to death any too quickly…

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Kat • March 10, 2009 at 4:13 pm

I’m a vet, so I’m pretty sure I could make sure that my favorite writers got saved… how else would I not get bored?!

Speaking of writers, I was bored yesterday so I went to B&N and picked up your book. Since we didn’t have any appointments (yay weather!) I actually read it from cover to cover in about 5 hours. I loved it, and am glad to see that you’re a Goodreads author!

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Lyn • March 10, 2009 at 4:34 pm

You better hope civilization does not collapse. Us fat people are going to wayyyy outlive you skinny people (built in food storage).

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anji • March 10, 2009 at 6:26 pm

Fellow web-design diva here… um – all I can say is, try to find a back-up! I did (and am grateful) though I make WAY less now as a teacher than I did as a graphics diva.

Meh.

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cher • March 10, 2009 at 6:58 pm

I read an article that said anyone working on future product (i.e. product coordinators, project coordinators, product engineers, product developers, designers) should be worried. If you design a product, you are now competing against the product that is currently sitting on shelves rather than being consumed. So whether you design widgets or websites, you are considered temporarily dispensable. Funds are being cut for research and development, remodels, extensions to rail lines, new houses, etc. It’s the wrong time to be in a creative field.

My newest and best diet will be that I can no longer afford food and money for transportation, so I’ll be eating less and walking more. Plus, I’ll finally have time to prepare all those meals and the luxury of long work-outs. Because I’ll be home all day sitting around being unemployed. Sigh. Yeah, I’m little Mary Sunshine today. No one ever saves the product developer, either.

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Julie • March 10, 2009 at 8:12 pm

I read a book by Max Brooks called “World War Z” which addressed this very issue. None of my friends liked the book, but I thought it was brilliant. One of the ideas brought forth in the book is that when faced with such a huge catastrophe as something like the fictional Zombie Wars in the book, in the aftermath, those who were important before the war – the lawyers, the congressmen, the mayors, the CEOs, any white collar worker, are now worthless, and the people with the power are those with tangible skills who can help rebuild the world – the plumbers, the seamstresses, the mechanics.

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Molly • March 10, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Hi Jenette,

I am so happy you posted about this! We did this exercise in high school, and I am now 35 years old. This stupid exercise has haunted me for 18 years now, because this whole time I have been thinking that I would never be one of the ones picked because I don’t do anything special. Thank you for making me feel not so alone in my worry. I think maybe we should create a fat island, or a used-to-be-fat island that would definitely pick people based on personality and not what we do for a living. :-)

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Jen • March 10, 2009 at 8:32 pm

Did you happen to watch Medium last night? The opening scene of an Apocalypse totally freaked me out. I had dreams of destruction and chaos last night, because of that show. How interesting that I came here to see that you are on the same wavelength.

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tricia • March 10, 2009 at 10:17 pm

Hence..why this graphic designer was laid off this month……sniff

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Jane • March 11, 2009 at 8:55 am

everyone always hates the lawyers- this particular lawyer is also a reasonable cook and a gardener, and I can sew clothes/tents. Plus one thing that lawyers are trained to do is look for creative solutions to interpersonal problems and get people to accept them (non lawyers only see the cases where that goes wrong, the tip of the iceberg, in court!)

When asked, “What is a contingent fee?” a lawyer answered, “A contingent fee to a lawyer means, if I don’t win your suit, I get nothing. If I do win it, you get nothing.”

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Sheila • March 11, 2009 at 12:20 pm

My husband is an engineer, highly educated AND highly practical. I hope I could slide through on his coattails!

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Laura N • March 11, 2009 at 3:00 pm

We’ve talked about this several times at our house. My hopes in a total collapse are all in my family–my step dad has guns & can fix/build anything. My mom’s family has land & used to own a farm. If it weren’t for them, I’m sure we’d be totally screwed.

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Allison • March 11, 2009 at 3:34 pm

Funny, I was thinking about something similar today as I had read a while back about people who only have 1 bag of garbage to put out a year, the rest of it they recycle, re-use, re-purpose, compost, etc. and I realized that I have been trained in the ‘civilized’ world as well and have become comfortable in the land of pre-packaged food and other items in order to make my life go a little faster. What will we do? Oh, probably survive of course… I hope anyway!

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Tara • March 11, 2009 at 5:11 pm

@Julie – I loved this book and thought it was spot on when it came to the end of civilization.

Survivalists only look crazy in the context of our values, should there ever be a “reckoning”, the ones laughing will be the ones who can sustain themselves.

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mademoiselle coeur solitaire • March 11, 2009 at 8:32 pm

I finished your book yesterday and started a blog today. 49 lbs. to go to reach the “normal” bmi but I’d be happy with a loss of only 25. I’ve got to put myself out there and come clean — maybe some day that will include uncloaking my identity. ;)

Thanks for paving the way.

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Nancy • March 12, 2009 at 6:22 pm

Funny, I’ve been thinking about this recently too. I was reading about peak oil and got all freaked out about the end of civilization, and started thinking about moving to the country and growing all my own food. In real life I’m a computer programmer, so I definitely need some more survival skills

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Quix • March 12, 2009 at 6:32 pm

My only saving grace on an island situation like that is I can make a plan like no other, not much other use for a video game producer….I doubt I’d be saved either.

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Amy • March 15, 2009 at 7:36 pm

My husband knows a young man who is very conspiracy theory focused. He is always talking to my hubby about his ideas as hubby has a wide range of practical skills: mechanical, electrical etc. It wouldn’t be too bad except that the boy is currently obsessed by fears of the future need for semi-automatic weapons. It’s getting kind of worrisome. Hubby keeps trying to inject a little reality, like we’d need much more food and water in such a senario before we’d need guns primarily used for killing/policing people. A hunting rifle I can understand, but an AK-47? Starting to worry me.

And I reckon if writers are dispensible, my printer hubby will be out of work too. Good thing we both have other useful skills.

There’s another post apocalyptic book that’s an interesting read: Made by Hand. I think that’s the title, the author also wrote The Long Emergency, if that’s a help. The main character is a computer programmer that only fared as well as he did because of college summers spent as a carpenter.

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John W • March 24, 2009 at 5:36 pm

@Jane – no, no, no. What lawyers are good at is arguing! I have a friend who went to law school because she liked the intellectual challenge. When it came to getting employed afterwards though, she quit lawyering because she was tired of arguing!

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Captain Kirk • April 8, 2009 at 6:19 am

@Pam – “…and an IRS agent are drowning…”

I don’t quite see the joke here: why would I let an IRS agent drown? He/she is – after all – one of the major forces keeping the community civilized.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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