Staring Down Stampedes

agsaf final logo*Over the past decade, it has been difficult to not witness a fundamental shift in societal behavior.  I’m referring to this strange tendency for anyone and everyone who suddenly hears a ding or a vibration to immediately look downward.  They’ll instantly tilt their heads and stare into the screens of their cell phones.  It’s almost as if society is collectively bowing its head.  But it’s not a church service and there isn’t much in the way of reverence.

You see it everywhere.  Look at the fans behind home plate.  Stand in any grocery store check-out line.  Walk through an airport.  Go to a bar and observe the general behavior.  Everyone is staring down.  It’s reminiscent of the experiments conducted by Ivan Pavlov, the Russian scientist.  He would ring a bell every time he fed his dogs.  After repeated conditioning, the dogs eventually began to salivate at the sound of a bell, even when there was no food.

When I use the reference “staring down stampedes,” it’s not as metaphorical as you might think.  Assuming the prospect of an artificially generated stampede, you would literally have to stare down any threatening information and conclude that it’s almost certainly a hoax.  It may not seem as overtly dangerous, but the analogy is consistent with staring down the barrel of a shotgun.  The weapons just take on a different appearance.

Remember 9/11.  Everyone looked up into the sky.  They tilted their heads back and stared up in disbelief as passenger planes crashed into the World Trade Center buildings.  They witnessed the smoke as it billowed from both towers.  Why do I get this eerie feeling that there will be a next time… only people will first look downward and then react accordingly?

I view all of this from the simple perspective of balance.  At the heart of everything, there are general themes of balance that dominate human behavior and govern our collective choices (social, economic, political, militaristic, etc.).  There are ramifications and repercussions to newly established societal trends.  What goes up, inevitably will come down.  As I’ve maintained, this is a societal problem that will eventually have to be addressed.  Human stampedes could happen anywhere, not just the worst case scenario football stadiums.  Every venue is in play (arenas, ballparks, auto racing facilities, shopping malls, megachurches, county fairs, etc.)

Regarding the logo, I purposely wanted to keep it as simple as possible.  The major sentiment I wanted to convey is that there’s a serious problem with simply placing blind faith and complete trust every time a cell phone rings or vibrates.  As humanity has already witnessed, information is not always truthful or accurate.  That’s why I chose the question mark.  I purposely wanted to keep it vague.  I didn’t want to focus solely on the stampede, but rather the larger concept, specifically the notion of widespread disinformation intentionally designed to create a civil disturbance.

I  struggled with using the imagery of a bomb.  I finally opted for a subtle, somewhat discreet (if that’s possible) depiction.  I deliberately left it open to interpretation.  Because remember, the information delivered through a cellular device is anything that results in a sudden rush of people.  Reflect on that for a moment.

It could be something relatively innocuous.  It could be the promise of free food, future tickets or discounted merchandise.  In our hero-worship driven culture, it could be the revelation of a sports figure signing autographs or an unexpected celebrity sighting.

Or it could be something far more direct – scenarios expressing imminent danger, such as bombs, improvised explosive devices, fire or even chemical weapons.  Considering the prevalence of these items in the mainstream news, it’s not as abstract a possibility as one might think.  Or it could come in the form of a realistic government mandated evacuation order.  The information could even be delivered from a trusted news source, friend or family member.  Cellular devices can relay a virtually infinite array of panic-inducing messages and information.  It could invoke a multitude of themes and several, different modes of delivery.

The domino “S” is self-explanatory.  Having already coined the term “dominipede,” I needed to convey the concept of multiple, simultaneous artificially generated stampedes.  Think of it in terms as a modern-day, technological equivalent of the domino theory.  Instead of countries falling to communism, it denotes a series of stadiums succumbing to panic.

Although not seen very often, the diamond symbol refers to civil disturbances and natural disasters.  This encompasses criminal activity involving bomb threats.

The traditional color of yellow was chosen to convey caution.  The color pink was selected to reflect emergency incident management.  If an artificially generated stampede, or worst case scenario dominipede unfolds, it would necessitate explanatory signage be displayed at ALL future large gatherings.  Although such signage might take on a different appearance, I predict it would bear many conceptual similarities with the AGSAF logo.