Episode 412: If I Wanna Get On The Bus, I Can Get On The Bus

On the Overthinking It podcast, we talk about the process of traveling: not the mind-expanding ritual of visiting foreign lands, but the minute by minute grind of being in transit. Also: The Happiest Chewbacca.

Pete Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matt Wrather discuss the qualities of intimacy and charm that make the Happiest Chewbacca video compelling, and delve deep into some #firstworldproblems around travel by air, train, bus, and car.

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2 Comments on “Episode 412: If I Wanna Get On The Bus, I Can Get On The Bus”

  1. Peter Fenzel OTI Staff #

    One thing I wanted to say on the podcast that we didn’t get to…

    …especially since this is a popular culture podcast, not a politics, security and infrastructure podcast…

    .. Is that when we think about “security theater,” we should think of ourselves, those of us who travel, not as an audience, but as performers. And government and private entity should consider travelers to be part of the show, not its audience.

    The roles we play mirror back the behaviors, expectations, incentives and narratives set out for us. We become characters.

    So just as an understanding of a character in a work of fiction changes as you change their circumstances, so a person involved in security theater changes when you change what the “show” is and how it works.

    Right now the “storytelling” of the TSA, which you see on signs or TVs when you travel by air, is all about how they are positive and nice and fun for children, and it is directed _at_ the traveling public.

    But this misses the point, because really the people you are trying to influence are people who have not yet decided to travel, or are trying to figure out what the situation is going to be like if they choose to use an airport for nefarious purposes.

    So a better security theater would embrace and involves the travelers as performers, not play to them (or at them).

    This might not be where the cheapest and readiest channels for communication are, but shaping your strategy in response to your channels can turn you around backwards.

    So, a pop-culture/fiction/entertainment mindset is useful here — how do you act toward travelers in such a way that you induce the behavior that you want to show other people?

    You can “write” events for noncompliant players by coercing them, but how do you “write” motivation, heart, or character for someone who has no reason to want to even read your script?

    That I think is the challenge of how to do something like the TSA right, but I don’t think anybody there is working toward this kind of goal, based on what I’m seeing.


  2. lemur #

    Oh man, the discussion about getting mad at the person reclining the seat in front of you got my blood boiling again about a memory of a specific incident with the reverse situation. I was the one who wanted to recline my seat, and it was the person behind me who, rather than being passive-aggressive like Matt, complained to the FA, who insisted that I sit with the seat up for the rest of the (trans-Pacific, incidentally – i.e., long) flight.


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