“She spent an astonishing amount of time in attending lectures and demonstrations, distributing literature for the Junior Anti-Sex League, preparing banners for Hate Week, making collections for the savings campaign, and such-like activities. It paid, she said; it was camouflage. If you kept the small rules you could break the big ones.”
― George Orwell, 1984

Zoologists have proposed multiple theories regarding the purpose of a zebra’s stripes; everything from insect replant to cooling, none of which have been embraced as fact.

Camouflage has always been the prevailing idea, but it has its flaws. Black and white stripes poised against a brown and green environment being one, and even with lions being color blind, stripes cause a lone zebra to stick out like a 1920’s escaped convict.

Professor of Psychology, Dr. Jordan Peterson, relates an explanation he heard from Dr Robert Sapolsky, professor of neurology at Stanford University. I’m paraphrasing, but here’s the gist:

A scientist studying Zebra behavior was observing a specific Zebra through binoculars and momentarily looked away to make a note. When he brought his eyes back up to the herd, he couldn’t tell which Zebra he had been looking at. Frustrated, his team decided to mark a few of the animals to avoid any more confusion – some with ear tags, some with a red splotch of paint.

It didn’t take long for lions to attack and eat the marked Zebras. That minor alteration – that single variation in pattern – caused the pride to focus their hunts on those specific zebra.

Why? The stripes don’t hide the zebra within its environment, the stripes hide the individual zebra within the herd.


Stripes betray the zebra that separates from the herd.

Go about life in a manner that does not attract attention from criminals OR the authorities. Avoid loud, boisterous behavior, refrain from insulting or combative language, and leave confrontation to the amateurs.

Be plain, vanilla, and boring!

It’s your choice to have a facial tattoo applied, fly a confederate flag on your vehicle, or wear clothing with brash political statements printed on them. And with that choice you get all the unpleasant interaction it propagates.

It’s not important that the 7.7 billion people on the planet know you are a free-thinking individual. That should be reserved for the enjoyment of a select few of your closest friends and family. No one else has a vested interest in your health or welfare, and attracting the attention of strangers through egotistical and careless behavior will prove it out immediately!

Your job is to be here tomorrow for those select few. So, when in public, don’t alter your stripes!

One of my favorite clothing patterns is camouflage. Because when you’re in the woods it makes you blend in. But when you’re not it does just the opposite. It’s like, “Hey! There’s an a$$hole!” – Demetri Martin, comedian