Were a zombie apocalypse ever to happen, most people assume survival will be easier as part of a group but this is not necessarily the case. In particular, a group will only increase your chances of survival if everyone works together, and to do this, they will need to fill one of the many different roles people can play in groups. Of the available roles, some will be familiar to you, while others might not. Yet, they all play important roles in keeping a group working together. So what are some of these roles?
Firstly, and most obviously, there’s the group leader. This is the person in charge and the one who makes most of the decisions, and to whom people look up to for guidance in times of need. Having a strong but fair group leader is essential to having a positive group dynamic. If the leader is too weak, he will not be able to get people to work together and this will greatly lessen the chances of survival. Similarly if the leader is seen as being unfair, it will cause dissent and discontent.
Next, we have the enforcer. The enforcer is generally the person who ensures that the group leader’s decisions are implemented. While the name ‘enforcer’ makes it seem like this must be done through force, it can equally be achieved through other forms of persuasion.
Most other members of the group will fall under the category of followers. While this makes it seem that they don’t play any important role within the group, this is untrue and many followers will have a vital roles. These include the armourer, who functions as the weapons expert, the scrounger, whose skills involve finding anything that is needed by other members of the group and the fixer, whose skills involve mending anything which becomes broken. These roles are relatively well established, but there are other, less familiar roles for followers. These include the mediator, who helps to settle minor disputes and the dissenter, whose role is to question the group’s decisions. This is important because it means the group doesn’t accidentally talk themselves into doing something stupid by mistake (just think how many times business and political leaders have done this because they’ve surrounded themselves with yes-men!). Then there’s the role I refer to as the font-of-all-knowledge (FOAK). The FOAK is the member of the group who all others, including the leader, turn to for advice and information. The FOAK often someone who also fills another role, such as the forager (the person responsible for getting food), medic or cook.
There are also other roles which the individuals filling them might not even realise they are doing. Yet these are still important for maintaining good group cohesion. Of these, probably the most interesting are the human garbage can and the Jonah. The human garbage can is the person who eats anything and everything (we all know someone like that!), meaning that no food is ever wasted. Why is this important? Well, high quality food is going to be in short supply and you may end up being faced with some pretty unpalatable meals much of the time (another spoonful of dog food anyone?). By being willing to eat anything, the human garbage can helps others see that these unpalatable meals are still edible and their presence encourages others to eat things they’d otherwise turn their nose up at. The Jonah’s role is not well-defined but basically they are the one who gets blamed whenever something goes wrong. It doesn’t matter that it’s their fault or not, it’s just that a group needs someone to blame when things don’t go their way. Often the Jonah will be someone who is naturally unlucky and is the type of person for whom everything which can go wrong usually does. However, for a Jonah to function, it’s important that they don’t feel picked on and usually the rest of the group will only refer to them as such when talking to each other rather than directly to the Jonah.
I’m sure there are also may other roles, but these are the ones which seem to be the minimum required for a group to function effectively under difficult conditions, a least in my experience, and this means they’re probably the most important ones to have filled in any post-apocalyptic survival group.
From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.
To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.