Strategy Lessons of Border Patrol Refusal Videos

In the 1983 film War Games the government has built a computer to simulate all the ways in which thermonuclear war might play out in order to find the best strategy. This is great for a government than can spend millions on research, but I'm not likely to convince the RAND corporation to program a simulation of my romantic relationship and run tests to determine the best way to get my girlfriend Marijke to take the dog out in the morning.

But there is another way to run variations on certain scenarios. The internet connects us together, even unintentionally. So if you can find enough of the same kinds of interactions recorded you can create a theory on how to optimize that scenario.

An example is "Border Patrol Refusal Videos" on YouTube. It's an unintentional virtual community optimizing crowd-sourced strategies to an invented game.

The game is not to get through the checkpoint, because they could simply admit to being US citizens. The game is to get through the checkpoint without answering the question of citizenship.

Some people play this game outside Border Patrol Checkpoints, but the low risk of Border Patrol checkpoints (you can always just show your ID and be let go) allows for a relatively safe environment.



The common strategy is to make demands and ask loud questions. By acting with confidence they don't allow the figure of authority to have any power over them.

It's clear that they are learning from one another. They share similar language and arguments. Also there is an obsession with Mexico and Nazi Germany...



Frustration for the win. Victory through exasperation. Or as I like to call it, The Insufferable Strategy.

Eventually the Border Patrol agent realizes the ridiculousness of the situation and that there is no win condition for them. They have to give up.

  
One man rises up as the beautiful mind of non-compliance. He simply doesn't speak. (The original video was 15 minutes, I've edited it down to 1:22.)


He spent over two hours at a Border Patrol checkpoint. Two hours! (He has more videos exploring different strategies, from handing out "Yes, I'm a US Citizen" business cards to wearing a wig and installing a disco ball in his car.)

YouTube has allowed us to see, over and over, that non-compliance works at a Border Control checkpoint. The checkpoints allow people to practice questioning authority. As they grow more confident they can start to question higher levels of authority.

What Border Patrol Refusal Videos highlight is an effective tactic with no planned strategy. The strategy is an emergent property of the game being played out online. Should enough people see these videos and replicate them it would be the effective end of the border control checkpoints. Should the checkpoints be removed the relatively safe space to practice anti-authoritarian behaviors is also removed.

Like the computer in War Games the lesson the internet teaches about ineffective use of authority is that the only winning move is not to play.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

4 reasons Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for universal basic income

In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.

(Photo by J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
  • The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
  • Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less

Why I wear my life on my skin

For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.

Videos
  • In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
  • This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
  • Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
Keep reading Show less