User Input

User Input: We’ll Call It A Social Experiment

Totally inconspicuous.

If money were no object, I’d buy myself a generic-looking panel van. No, not to write “FREE CANDY” on the sides and drive it slowly past elementary schools to time how long it takes until I get arrested. That’s sick and wrong. Funny, but wrong.

No, I’d buy a panel van, and equip it like the one in the photo above. I’d fill it with small gadgets that make whirring noises, so that when someone walked past the van, they’d hear a veritable symphony of humming, buzzing and whirring noises. Possibly add a soundtrack with muffled conversation, and the occasional voice saying something like, “SWAT team” or “assault weapons”. And then I’d park it in relatively obvious spots — like, say, outside a large apartment complex — and observe it to see how many people start to look paranoid when they see it.

Or, alternately, I’d fill it with as many people as humanly possible — fifty or so should do — all dressed in black suits, with their faces artfully covered in soot, and park it somewhere busy, and wait until its noises start to draw a small crowd. Then, when a suitable number of people are amassed, set off a small smoke grenade inside the van, and send the entire crowd of people inside charging out of the van, coughing and wheezing, and have them attempt to send the crowd on their way. “Nothing to see here, nothing to see, move along, move along.” And then wait to see if we could make the news.

Possibly I’d just park it across the street from one of those sketchy-looking houses with all the antennae and satellite dishes outside, and count how many times the owner peers out the window at it. The possibilities are endless, and observing the results would doubtless give scientists some valuable insight into the paranoid aspects of society’s collective consciousness.

If money were no object — within reason, of course, we’re not talking “buy the Government” money — what practical joke would you love to play on an unsuspecting populace?

…in the name of science, of course.


Also, in a totally unrelated matter, today is my mother’s birthday, and I know she is quietly lurking here on the site pretty much daily. Happy birthday, mom. I love you!

  • skitter

    The least constructive social experiment I can think of would be running for office.

    The paranoid mind is far more coherent than the real world. – Richard Hofstadter.

  • CaptianNemo2001

    Fly a hot air balloon over groom lake.

  • OA5599

    I'd buy a bunch of land up north where nobody goes because of the cold. Then I'd try to convince people it was some other country by tweaking a few spellings, mispronouncing a few words, and playing games involving iced surfaces.

    • Deartháir

      Dude, you're WAY too late for that one.

      • <Via Google Translate> "Dood, you're WAY too late fer that one, eh?"

        • Deartháir

          You know, I honestly have NO clue what part of Canada actually has that accent. I've never heard it once, except by Americans pretending to be Canadian!

          • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

            I'm pretty sure it's more of a us Americans don't know geography well and confuse some Wisconsinites with Canadians.

    • tiberiusẅisë

      If you've got maple syrup, I'm in.

  • Back when I was in college I had a friend that gave campus tours to prospective students and parents. We always wanted to arrange to have him get to the part about campus safety, at that point come driving up with masks on, toss a bag over his head, throw him in the back of a car and speed off. He would be in on the whole stunt of course.

    Probably should mention this was at Georgia Tech, a few blocks off campus is not exactly the nicest of neighborhoods.

    • skitter

      And it's not like you had to make anything up for Tech to be awful.

      /had to be kept away from tour groups

  • jakebonz

    I've always wanted to disassemble someone's car and reassemble it in their living room.

    • CaptianNemo2001

      Deartháir 109p · 1 minute ago
      Dude, you're WAY too late for that one.

      ^ What he said its been done. Volkswagen Bug/Beetle

      How about a Simi placed in someones living room instead? Totally disassembled and reassembled in someones living room…

      • Deartháir

        The UBC Engineers have an age-old tradition of putting VW Beetles in strange and wonderful places. My personal favourite was when they broke into the UBC Chancellor's office and put a Beetle in there, in something like 12 minutes.

  • Number_Six

    Orson Welles already took mine.

  • I've staged fistfights at traffic lights with friends. Then "stolen" their car once they hit the ground and the light went green.
    Kind of like an overly dramatic chinese firedrill.

  • My favorite: When you see one of them orange traffic cones in a supermarket, you can play it like a tuba and make it go "BRRRRRRRRT!!" REALLY loud. Then put it back and continue shopping, and wait for the store manager to come running to see what the hell that noise was.

    • jeepjeff

      So, if given a ridiculous amount of money to play a practical joke, you'd play orange-cone tuba and then drive off in a Ferrari? (Thus pranking the store manager as noted and the guy who gave you a ridiculous sum for a practical joke…)

  • tiberiusẅisë

    My friends and I used to like to go into crowded men's rooms, stand next to each other and say, "Nice penis" really loudly while looking over admiringly.

    Don't try this at Yankee stadium.

    • jeepjeff

      A friend of mine went to a community college where the bathrooms all had three urinals. Whenever he saw someone else making a bee-line for the can, he'd rush in first and take the middle urinal.

    • OA5599

      My friend used to work at a mall and I met him at his work for lunch one day. His wife had a birthday or anniversary coming up so we stopped at Victoria's Secret so he could pick out a gift. It was frilly underwear, of course.

      As the salesgirl was about to ring him up, I asked him in a deliberately loud voice why he was about to buy himself panties without first trying them on. The salesgirl confided with him that he was more than welcome in the dressing room and that she has lots of male customers.

  • coupeZ600

    I had some friends who were all English majors and had a punk-rock band who spray painted the words,
    on the side of the van they used to carry their equipment to shows. One day I was driving around with my older brother when we saw it.

    "What a bunch of dumb-asses….", he said.

    I smiled. Absolutely Perfect.

  • pj134

    Your mom doesn't lurk, I distinctly remember her talking about her favorite brand of lube.

    • Deartháir

      Come now, that's uncalled for.

      • pj134

        If I'm only making one post a week, it Is best served bringing up repressed posts I can't find.

  • aastrovan

    The Internet is a joke being played on an unsuspecting populace.

  • BlackIce_GTS

    I think I've mentioned before, I'd like to have a bot post "OMG!" to every single video on youtube. With random-yet-plausible usernames; 420dood2010, explosionfan657, mexigurl380, DrSatan33.
    I'd like to buy airtime, like a whole prime time half-hour slot, and just give it to some incoherent conspiracy wacko. Like this dude. Here you go, you're replacing Jersey Shore tonight.
    Stay tuned tomorrow for the FEMA coffin plague bullshit thing show. On every channel. That guy doesn't want to be on TV? Fine, just write a script, I'll hire Tom Cruse to read it.
    Contract call centers to bombard radio stations with requests for Metal Machine Music constantly.
    Buy some newspaper that's about to go under, keep it running for a month full of lorem ipsum with pictures provided by a google image search for "jpg".
    [youtube X_XiA4U_XsE youtube]
    Just generate maximum WTF. You get the idea.

    • OA5599

      Tom Cruise in the role of some incoherent conspiracy wacko? Brilliant!