Take flight or remain out of sight
I heard an interesting discussion on National Public Radio yesterday afternoon. Essentially it was a discussion around the following question:
“Which superpower would you rather have, Flight or Invisibility?”
While the conversation on the NPR show (“This American Life“} wandered far afield as they asked this question of different people, and here is the gist of what they found in during the interview:
John Hodgman conducts an informal survey in which he asks the age-old question: Which is better: The power of flight or the power of invisibility? He finds that how you answer tells a lot about what kind of person you are. And also, no matter which power people choose, they never use it to fight crime
Turns out that most people will choose the power of flight if they are answering the question in public or in a group. It seems that flight is the more noble answer, conveying the image that as a person we want to soar or rise up. Makes sense, right?
When asked the same question and answering privately, most people choose invisibility, indicating that they would use their ability to do sneaky underhanded things that they fantasize about, but wouldn’t want to be seen doing (or risk the embarrassment of being caught.) Things like shoplifting, or being able to sneak in unobserved and watch a celebrity having sex.
Sounds about right to me. Human nature, it’s a beautiful and sneaky thing.
I believe most of us work hard at being better people. Of course, we all have things large or small we do that we know we shouldn’t be doing, or wouldn’t want someone else to know about. Public scrutiny and the desire to be better both help to keep us in line.
There are other reasons for choosing one power over the other. I posted this on Facebook and has some interesting choices shared by some HR peeps we all know and love.
One of the comments was charming and sweet.
“Until I met John, it would have been invisibility. Now, it’s definitely flight! “I just wanted to be invisible so nobody would see me and I could have peace and quiet. I never really thought about being invisible so I wouldn’t get caught.”
and then there was this pearl of wisdom from Matthew Stollak
“The problem with flight is breathing, particularly as one goes fast, plus all the world’s detritus and insects flying in your face.”
Personally, I’d choose flight so that I could head for home as soon as my business trip was over, and so that I wouldn’t have to undress for the TSA guys in Atlanta 5-6 times a month. Which power would you choose, and why? Hit me up in the comments.
And as they mentioned on This American Life, while you thinking over which power you want, consider this:
Who do you want to be – The person you hope to be or the person you fear you really are?
Also, go check out my friend Karla Porter’s blog and what she wrote on the same topic.