Thoreau the Survivor

“Survivor” was not the first reality TV series. And it wasn’t “The Real World,” either. No, the first individual to conceive of the idea of performing ridiculous stunts in public in order to prove a point (or just amuse the neighbors) was Henry David Thoreau, says Julia Keller. But in all seriousness, the importance of Thoreau’s little stunt – abandoning city life to live like a hermit in the middle of nowhere – has been twisted and misconstrued over the years since “Walden” was written. And just as in most reality shows, Thoreau wasn’t above a slight varnishing of the truth if the editing process could help out the narrative flow.