Opinion » Letter From The Editor

Highly Invisible

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Did you read this week about the two Australian guys who devised a scheme to enter any facility or event without being checked for identification or asked to pay? It was a very funny webpost.

The two fellows had noticed that no one questions or pays any attention to people who appear to be working at a venue. What if, they thought, you were able to ... blend in as an employee or as someone making a maintenence call? Could you just walk in? Would employees and customers just assume you were there on a service call of some sort? They decided to test their theory and ordered some yellow "high-visibility" vests, the kind universally worn by work crews and service employees.

For their trial run, the two men went to a local movie theater. To their delight, they were able to walk past the entrance booth with barely a glance from the ticket taker. In they went and down they sat, right in one of the front rows. Free movie!

They then decided to up the ante and try their hi-vis vest theory at the Melbourne Zoo. The two mates boldly walked past a line of patrons waiting to buy tickets and even chirped a cheeky "G'day" to the ticket seller and security guard as they entered. And again, no one questioned their right to do so. They snapped lots of photos of themselves posed in front of various cages and had a fine time.

A few days later, they ventured out to a Coldplay concert at a stadium venue in Melbourne. Again, they walked past security without the slightest notice being given to their entry. They stolled down the side aisle, circled past the restraining barriers in front of the stage, and stood looking up the nostrils of the band as they performed. And again they took lots of smirky photos of themselves. The men discovered that the hi-vis vests, ironically enough, actually served as a sort of invisibility cloak. There's probably a lesson there for all of us: If you act like you belong (and wear the right clothes), you can get away with just about anything. People are too preoccupied with their own jobs and lives to pay much attention to anything else. Maybe this "fake crews" phenomenon is just another variation of fake news?

Speaking of ... It was reported this week that Facebook's plan to weed out fake stories is backfiring. When the social media giant tags a story as "disputed," that post often gets tagged and shared in a viral fashion by those who think Facebook is trying quash or censor a story favorable to their political views.

Similarly, President Trump's spokespeople are getting burned on an almost daily basis by their own boss. When a negative story breaks, press secretary Sean Spicer, Vice President Mike Pence, National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, and others are sent out to face the press with a denial of one sort or another. Then, almost without fail, the next day the president goes on television and says something (or tweets something) that destroys the officially crafted response. What's fake? What's real? What's the truth? Who's on first? We don't know any more. And neither does the administration, apparently. Now, it's being reported that the president is taking almost his entire White House staff along with him on an 11-day, five-country tour that begins later this week. Those traveling with Trump include Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, Gary Cohn, Dina Powell, Stephen Miller, Sean Spicer, Rex Tillerson, McMaster, and several others.

If you think the idea of this traveling circus going on the road is terrifying, just imagine what the foreign governments must be thinking. Me, I think they all ought to be required to wear hi-vis vests.

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