The Power of Invisibility
Illustration by Alex Moon
Whenever someone mentions being invisible, metaphorically or literally, it isn’t always looked upon in a positive light. The majority of people want to be noticed, or others convince them that they want to be. To put it simply, people think that being noticed is good and going unnoticed is bad. School, work, and social gatherings put an emphasis on being seen, making those who want to go unnoticed feel bad about themselves. Situations like these showcase invisibility in a negative light to the point where it’s undesirable. However, what many people don’t realize are the significant advantages to being invisible. Nothing showcases the positivity of invisibility better than comic books. Since the inception of superheroes, there have always been a handful of widely recognizable superpowers. This includes super strength, flight, mind control, super speed and invisibility, which has always been one of the most recognizable superpowers. Some of the most iconic heroes have the power of invisibility: the Fantastic Four’s Invisible Woman, Miles Morales’ Spider-Man and DC’s Martian Manhunter, to name a few.
These heroes use invisibility to stop crime and save the world. They use their ability for stealth, whether that be for reconnaissance or for sneaking around. During combat, they turn invisible and throw their opponent off guard, as well as sneaking up and attacking them. They turn what most people consider a disadvantage into something useful and powerful.
Though invisibility as a power still remains fiction, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any benefits for being unnoticed in the real world. One of the most notable situations is undercover work for federal agents and other law enforcement. If someone draws too much attention to themselves while going undercover, they risk their entire operation, not to mention the risk of getting killed if anyone found out who they really were. Invisibility as power even extends to news reporters, who have to blend into their surroundings to uncover the truth for their story.
Those who prefer to stay in the background also have the opportunity to observe their surroundings and gain information. Someone who wants to earn a promotion in their workplace might stay silent, observe their competition and identify their weaknesses. Then, they observe those with the position they want and try to emulate their work ethic and behavior. Studying those around you allows you to mold yourself into the ideal candidate and increase your chances.
Going unnoticed can also allow someone to save their own life. While it’s not likely that most people find themselves in life-threatening situations, it does pay to keep quiet if you are. If you’re in a hostage situation and surrounded by armed men, you can increase your chances of survival by not saying or doing anything to the point where you're ignored.
There have even been some cases where being invisible has helped me. I’m generally a very quiet and shy person and don’t like to be put in the spotlight unless I consent to it. In fact, I’ve gotten so good at going unnoticed that half the time people don’t know I’m in the same room with them. I’ve mainly used it to get out of public speaking by shrinking into the back of classrooms or crowds, but I’ve also used it to help me slip away from social situations that I want to leave early. I even use invisibility as a type of anonymity. Since most people don’t notice me, that means that they don’t know who I am personally or by name recognition. There has been more than one occasion where this has helped me to evade embarrassing situations, like when I asked a stupid question on a museum tour and everybody laughed at me. But, because I was all the way in the back and surrounded by strangers, the embarrassment wasn’t as bad as it could have been if I had been.
Being invisible isn’t as bad as most people make it out to be. Whether you're a normal person trying to get by in life or a superhero saving the world, sometimes it pays to go unnoticed.