What No One Sees…

Everyone remembers that moment in Avengers: Infinity War when Drax thinks that by moving slowly, he can remain unseen. That is, actually, a tactic that can be used to avoid being remembered or noticed by people who are distracted. It is hardly a hundred percent effective in every situation and place, but it can and has been done. Move slowly or stand still while, and you will be overlooked because you are not moving and, therefore, not attention-worthy.

The video below offers insights into another aspect of avoiding attention: act normal. Natasha Romanoff uses this point to great effect in The Winter Soldier* where she tells Steve Rogers to put one arm around her and “laugh at something [she] said.” By blending in the right way, you do not attract attention. Ergo, with others looking elsewhere, you can go your merry way and never be recognized.

In point of fact, this is why HYDRA’s later attempts to kill Steve, Natasha, and Sam Wilson attract so much attention. The attempted assassination of Nick Fury is also notable: such public attempts to murder are extremely uncommon in the West. They do happen elsewhere in the world, but typically not in the United States or a number of other first world countries.

That rather shows how certain HYDRA was of taking control of SHIELD and the rest of the world. Why hide when you are going to win, anyway? This will be the new normal. Your new subjects ought to become accustomed to the threat of and the violence inherent in the new regime you are setting up.

All that being said, how realistic is the video and choreographed fight scene below? Here we have two men fighting to assassinate one another in broad daylight in a park. Both carry knives and they pass by or allow other pedestrians to pass them during the fight. Somehow, no one notices the two men desperately trying to kill one another.

It’s absurd. That would never happen in real life!

…Would it?

That’s the key question, isn’t it? Everyone the two fighters in the video pass are distracted. They’re looking at their phones, have their headphones in, and are focused on themselves. On their own goals, their own lives, their own specific needs in this particular moment. They therefore never see nor really notice what the other people beside them are doing – including the two killers attempting to carve each other up in their very midst.

One person does note something strange. But since this person is in the middle of an outdoor class, the attention to detail is split. Thus, this person also misses the obvious, despite coming closer than anyone else to realizing that something is wrong.

From a writing perspective, this scene teaches storytellers a great deal. People miss much in the world going on around them because they are naturally inclined to and often must pay a great deal of attention to their own lives. It means they miss things, things which may be obvious if they were more observant or had reason to be wary.

Even well-trained operatives can overlook or miss people: in Captain America: Civil War*, Natasha hears European sirens over the phone when talking to Steve after the bombing of the Accords. But while she does try to scan the area to find him, he is positioned in such a way that she cannot see him easily despite knowing he is nearby. He and Sam also blend in well enough that, if Sharon Carter didn’t know how they were dressed and where they were waiting for her, she might have missed them.

Remember these things not only for your writing but for your everyday life. What do you miss because you are trying to get to work on time, worried about your own issues, et cetera? Your own life matters, and your problems are, of course, worthy of attention.

But we live in a world where danger can strike either ourselves or others at any time. If we do not keep our eyes open to that fact, we put ourselves at unnecessary risk. Predators do not hunt alert prey – they hunt prey that feels safe and, therefore, lets its guard down.

Don’t let your characters forget this rule unless they have good reason to, or because they have never been in a life-or-death situation before. For your own sake and safety, keep it in mind for yourself, too. Otherwise, you might end up in the same position as one of the assassins in the video below.

ARTHUR (Park Fight Scene – Yoshi Sudarso v. Jay Kwon)

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If you liked this article, friend Caroline Furlong on Facebook or follow her here at www.carolinefurlong.wordpress.com. Her stories have been published in Cirsova’s Summer Special and Unbound III: Goodbye, Earth, while her poetry appeared in Organic Ink, Vol. 2. She has also had stories published in Planetary Anthologies Luna, Uranus, and Sol. Another story was released in Cirsova Magazine’s Summer Issue in 2020, and she recently had a story published in Storyhack Magazine’s 7th Issue and Cirsova Magazine’s 2021 Summer Issue. Order them today!

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19 thoughts on “What No One Sees…

  1. “ Why hide when you are going to win, anyway? This will be the new normal. Your new subjects ought to become accustomed to the threat of and the violence inherent in the new regime you are setting up.”
    Very sound observation. Please excuse this digression into current events, but unfortunately this observation easily may be applied to much activity today, by the US and various other governments, as they gaslight their people, refuse to enforce the law against violent “demonstrations” by their favored groups, and openly deny due process and equal protection of the law to those who oppose them. All great novel or story material, but a little too close to reality for comfort right now! Activities once (at least believed to be) confined to relatively insignificant third-world countries are becoming routine in the “first world.” We need some real-life heroes like those you and your peers create in your work! (Rant concludes.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Apples come from apple trees.

      Peace and rule of law in a population come from a certain amount of that population aligning that way, and not enough dissidents from law (criminals) and dissidents from peace to inspire the overall behavior away from that.

      What we associate with the third world exists there precisely because of the mixture of civilization dissidents versus proponents of civilization who live it.

      The opposition is partly attempting to terrorize us into submission, and partly attempting to persuade a lot of Americans to betray civilization. They have been drinking their own ink for generations, and are deeply invested in an incorrect model that predicts that ‘the masses’ are super oppressed by civilization, and waiting for an excuse to abandon it. As opposing to being individuals who by and large /like/ civilization.

      The bulk of Americans seem to have quietly refused the opposition’s invitation to betray the cause of civilization.

      So, I would contend that we need is a little more of what we already have.

      We would be heartened by good public examples set for us. But, we should not have our trust in ‘princes’ to actually fix the problems.

      We know what right is. We know what wrong is.

      We are not helpless. There are things that we can do.

      The opposition is in very fragile place, and a little bit more done actively, or even continued passive quiet refusal, may send the regime toppling down. Many times big problems can be solved by many people working on a different small problem close at hand that is within their power.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Exactly: an avalanche can start with the slightest shift of snow or the mildest sound, and small pebbles can begin a rockslide. Simply saying “no” can be quite as effective as a grand gesture – and, sometimes, more eloquent than a lengthy statement. Once enough people say “no,” quietly or loudly, the tide has already turned against the opposition.

        Thinking we are helpless just gives the opposition what they want. If they are so sure of victory, then why do they seek to hear their opponents capitulate? Perhaps it is because they know that in the end, they lose…so long as the “helpless” continue to obstinately say “no” and mean it.

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  2. “Where does a wise man hide a pebble?”
    “On a beach.”

    Invisibility, in real life, means being unremarkable: not standing out from the crowd. Being unnoticed is as a good as unseen, and to be noticed, one has to be differentiated (which makes it awkward for ultra-fit and incredibly good-looking people like superheroes).

    I remember one episode of the show ‘Burn Notice’ where the spy-protagonist’s mother needed to hide during a big climactic confrontation. She put on a pair of sunglasses and simply stepped out into the crowd, saying, in effect, that if they can pick out one blonde 60-something woman in Miami, they deserve to get her.

    Very good post and good point!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks! I need to go back and watch that show. It was a good series.

      As long as a man can remain unremarkable or make himself uninteresting, no one has any reason to remember him and all the reason in the world to ignore him. Bulky clothes will help hide fitness, sunglasses will help hide one’s face, and a hat will aid in shielding one’s features. A man can change his color or hide it, or act like whatever he is doing is nothing important, and no one will notice him.

      Spycraft and infiltration 101: become indistinguishable from the crowd, and no one will look twice, because they are too busy trying to get wherever they are going to worry about anyone else. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Rumor has it that human-sized dragons wearing human clothing can walk unnoticed in human cities because when humans think “that can’t be real” and ignore the dragons. [Big Dragon Grin]

    Liked by 3 people

  4. That, “Predators do not hunt alert prey – they hunt prey that feels safe and, therefore, lets its guard down.”, brings to mind a thing heard in someone’s commentary decades ago, it went something like, “The first rule of being a successful predator is to select the prey who are least likely to ruin your whole day.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Barbara Hambly’s Vampires generally preyed on people that few would miss.

      But sometimes they, as a change of pace, would prey on people that were missed and the victim’s friends/relatives might suspect What had killed them.

      But her Vampires were very good at spotting would-be Vampire Hunters and extremely good at avoiding the Hunters so well that the Hunters would give up.

      No way did her Vampires want Humans to get the idea that Vampires were real and the best way for Humans to learn that Vampires were real was for something Bad happen to Vampire Hunters. 😈

      Liked by 2 people

    • You can potentially decrease the number of people pursuing the predator strategy by finding ways to do things that screw the predators up.

      One thing that is a problem for them is clear impartially fair processes, that cover the necessary issues, and are widely understood to reliably cover those those issues.

      Which is a reason why going along all willy nilly to put in a new process, or bias an old process, in order to, say, ‘stop men from raping women’, can confuse matters enough to make opportunities for a clever rapist.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Agreed – if the process of dealing with rapists is clear, concise, and decisive, it will deter them from pursuing their path. Not in all circumstances or places, but in enough locations and times to make finding them and dealing with them less like chasing cockroaches into the word work and more like hunting wolves or lions. The latter type of hunting is neither easy nor safe in all cases, but at least there is a trail to follow.

        Moreover, if the process of dealing with a rapist is in the potential victim’s hand, then that rather puts the problem to rest on the spot. If one is *not* prey, then the prospective predator is at a severe disadvantage.

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    • They do indeed signal a confidence that such a tactic will work. Whether or not it actually *will* accomplish its end depends on whether or not those who believe in civilization will stand by and continue to tolerate such acts of violence. Generally, they reach a consensus where they decide they have had enough and the tactic stops being effective.

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