Embracing the Gray Man


(ModernSurvival.org) – Modern society puts a high level of importance on standing out and becoming the center of attention. From flashy clothing and fancy cars to bright tattoos and crazy hairstyles, people often put a great deal of effort into getting noticed. But from a survivalist perspective, is standing apart from the crowd really a good idea?

The following video from City Prepping explains why there may be times when avoiding attention could save your life:

In the prepping community, the term “Gray Man” is used to describe the need to become invisible while in a crowd or going about day-to-day life. Gray man is achieved by blending into the background of whatever environment an individual happens to be in. They accomplish this by becoming so boring and “gray” that no one would be able to remember seeing them.

There are many reasons why becoming a gray man is a good idea:

  • By being less noticeable, thieves will look for more visually appealing targets — people who appear as though they have something worth taking.
  • No one will remember the characteristics of a gray man, making it easier to escape from bad situations or bad people.
  • After a catastrophe, desperate people will look for those who have the essential items they need and will overlook people who appear in equal or worse shape.

Becoming a gray man boils down to learning how to camouflage based on the current environment. This includes outward appearances but also encompasses more subtle aspects, such as body movement.

To become a gray man, there are three basic rules to follow:

    1. Determine the baseline. The baseline is what is considered normal in the current environment. In a sporting event, people will be wearing jerseys, carrying popcorn or beer, and cheering excitedly. However, outside of the event, these same things could act as identifiers — drawing attention that would single them out. In a SHTF scenario, people are going to be dirty, malnourished, and destitute. Being clean, well-fed, or even looking content could raise alarms with desperate survivors looking for ways to better their situation. The easiest way to determine the baseline of any new environment is by exercising situational awareness. Watch and observe the way locals are dressed and how they act. Once the baseline is established, dress and behave accordingly.
    2. Avoid creating stimuli. The key here is to avoid anything that will make an outside observer remember you. Bright colors, big movements, fancy jewelry, and even tactical gear can all leave an impression, depending on the current baseline. The idea is to keep the appearance in such a state that no one looking in a crowd would take notice.
    3. Blend in. Blending into the environment requires a few steps. First, dress accordingly for the people in the current baseline, but avoid stimuli such as logos. These stand out and have the potential to give an observer something to identify and recall. Second, avoid making eye contact. Eye contact triggers a response and often creates the need for engagement. Conversations can be great, but not while in stealth mode. Third, control your demeanor. Appearing confrontational can lead to conflict, which will lead to unwanted attention. Stay calm and casual unless the situation dictates otherwise. Last, control odors. Just as a hunter will attempt to cloak their smell from a deer, it’s important to keep odors away from observers. Strong body odor or even perfume will create a noticeable stimulus in the minds of others, giving them cause to investigate further.

Embracing the gray man concept is to deny others information. In fact, it goes hand-in-hand with another important concept in prepping: OPSEC. To learn why keeping information away from others is so important to preppers, check out our article on OPSEC here.

~Here’s to Your Survival!

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