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#296790 - 08/14/20 02:58 AM The Grey Man: Myth or Reality?
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7347
Loc: southern Cal
In a lot of survival discussions and literature, being the grey man is advocated -be inconspicuous, blend in, dress in drab colors, and don't let your equipment or actions indicate that you are well equipped and prepared, lest the hungry mob attack and strip you of everything.

How realistic is this strategy? Ar there real life instances where conspicuously equipped and attired folks were actually mobbed? Any definitive studies? CDC or FEMA guidelines?

I ask because there are many different types of emergency situations, in at least quite a few where the opposite of being the grey man - stepping forward, using your gear to assist others, etc. might be a much better outcome.

Granted that walking around in an ongoing riot with a handful of $100 bills might not a very good idea, i am pretty sure there must bee a happy medium for a good many situations.

Comments invited.......
Geezer in Chief

#296791 - 08/14/20 03:37 AM Re: The Grey Man: Myth or Reality? [Re: hikermor]
haertig Offline

Registered: 03/13/05
Posts: 2201
Loc: Colorado
I don't think the question is "are there real life instances"? IMHO the question should be "COULD there be real life instances?" And if there could be, then you need to look at what are the benefits of going conspicuous over inconspicuous (and visa versa).

e.g., If there are no documented cases of mobbing, but you can remotely imagine that there possibly could be, I would still ask myself "Do I GAIN anything by going conspicuous?" If not, then the obvious choice is to go inconspicuous. At least for me. I want advantage to be on my side. Overwhelming advantage.

If you end up in a "fair fight", then you planned very poorly indeed.

#296793 - 08/14/20 04:30 AM Re: The Grey Man: Myth or Reality? [Re: hikermor]
Phaedrus Online   content
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2760
Loc: Big Sky Country
I'd vote more myth than reality. Just as with camouflage it's hard to envision where one Grey Man Costume would fit all situations. On a college campus I'd say a brightly colored backpack and wear your pants around your knees...and be 19 years old. grin At my age I'd have more like dressing like Indiana Jones' dad and trying to look like a professor.

I have read that the idea is specifically not to look 'tactical', so no 511 pants or MOLLE'd out packs. But if looters were looking for someone to rob (again, in our Mad Max scenario) you could also make a case for them avoiding attacking someone that's probably got a Glock 19 in that manny-pack/fanny-pack.
“I'd rather have questions that cannot be answered than answers that can't be questioned.” —Richard Feynman

#296794 - 08/14/20 05:51 AM Re: The Grey Man: Myth or Reality? [Re: hikermor]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2918
Loc: Alberta, Canada
I suppose the argument for a "grey man" approach presumes groups of people who could become a physical threat if provoked. So what provokes them?

A mob or mass protest is provoked by symbols.

Criminals are provoked by easy opportunity.

Other small groupos are provoked by territorial incursions.

The grey man approach, if there is such a thing, is to be uninteresting and unprovocative. Non-symbolic, not an obvious mark, and not looking to pick a fight. Just passing through.
But clothing or the way your gear looks is only window dressing; I think body language is the big divider between provoked and not.

But this all assumes contact. I like haertig's approach: the goal is to be elsewhere when bad things start to happen. This is an active goal; it's situational awareness in action.

#296795 - 08/14/20 07:42 AM Re: The Grey Man: Myth or Reality? [Re: hikermor]
Chisel Offline

Registered: 12/05/05
Posts: 1300
The way I look at "grey"-everything is not because of mobs necessarily, but to avoid ANY kind of unwanted attention. In my corner of the world, most people are for enjoying life to the point that much of the talk about safety (not even survival) is not very welcome. A few years ago, I have donated fire extinguishers and rechargeable emergency lights to a social center, and when I visited the place a few months later saw the fire extinguishers thrown in a storage room with a heap of miscellaneous stuff. Emergency lights were on the wall but not plugged to be charged.

These people also behaved recklessly during corona pandemic; they held engagement parties ...etc. despite everyone calling for social distancing and wiser measures.

I would like to call them "soft mob". Not aggressively attacking others and grabbing their stuff, but their lifestyle and behaviour nevertheless threatens your safety and survival. They are relatives, and relatives of relatives. They live around us and we cannot live a 1000 miles away from them.

It is for this "soft mob" that I want to be a greyman. I don't want them to know my stock of gloves, hand sanitizer, or 10 boxes of first aid kits, let alone my food stock. Yes, I am a giver usually, but I don't want to be known to unwise people who would live carelessly, and when SHTF would panic and demand more than they need and then waste it. SHTF may change their thinking and make them wiser, but it seems to be temporary. I have seen it during periods of lockdown during the past few months.

#296796 - 08/14/20 07:54 AM Re: The Grey Man: Myth or Reality? [Re: hikermor]
Chisel Offline

Registered: 12/05/05
Posts: 1300
BTW, these "soft mob" people are not bad by their nature. They are so good , but not wise. A few days ago, I was in a store waiting in the line. In front of me was a lady, and on the side was a shopping trolley left by someone. After the lady paid I moved forward and a guy came and held that trolley, so I moved back but he insisted I move forward and he stands behind me.

I used kind words only but he grabbed my arm and pushed me forward. LOL. What happened to social distancing ??!!

This is what I mean by "soft mob".
So kind, yet unwise.

If a guy like him finds out that I have 30+ boxes of face masks, he will joke about it every where, and if we go back to lockdowns or other wave of Corona (God forbid), he will tell everyone who has a huge stock of face masks. He is a very generous and sharing type of person, and will expect everyone to be unconditionally sharing what they have with everyone.

#296800 - 08/14/20 11:43 AM Re: The Grey Man: Myth or Reality? [Re: hikermor]
williamlatham Offline

Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 257
Loc: Stafford, VA, USA
Grey man is not really a look, but a mindset. Try to blend in. In NYC that may be wearing a suit (pre-pandemic) or overalls in farm country (won't work since everyone knows everyone but hey) but you get the point. You can give or aid, just don't advertise it. Don't be flashy. The best way you can blend in is to ACT like you belong there even if you don't

#296801 - 08/14/20 03:16 PM Re: The Grey Man: Myth or Reality? [Re: hikermor]
chaosmagnet Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3426
Loc: USA
I grew up in an unsavory neighborhood in NYC. The only time I was ever (successfully) mugged, I was about 12, and stood out way more than I should have for where I was.

Anecdotally, blending in has allowed me to avoid a LOT of trouble in big cities.

I take the opposite approach when off the beaten path, I've never wanted to not stand out (excepting youthful hijinks long ago).

#296803 - 08/15/20 05:14 PM Re: The Grey Man: Myth or Reality? [Re: hikermor]
gulliamo Offline

Registered: 09/11/02
Posts: 176
Loc: Denver, CO, USA
Looking super-tacticool can get one all sorts of attention. Here are a few real-life anecdotes.

In gaming there is the concept of "Geek the mage first". This basically means focus fire to take out the most powerful-looking opponent first. In my mind "grey man" means "don't look like the mage". smile

1. Extra TSA scrutiny in US airports
2. Extra police scrutiny in non-US countries
3. Extra attention from thieves

Maxpedition and other manufactures have picked up on this and are creating "practical tactical" lines - many of which are actually grey.


#296804 - 08/15/20 10:21 PM Re: The Grey Man: Myth or Reality? [Re: hikermor]
Teslinhiker Offline

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1413
Loc: Cranbrook BC (Finally)
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

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