If you live in a city, chances are you encounter homeless people everyday. But how much attention do you give them? If this new PSA from the New York City Rescue Mission is to be believed, the answer is likely: not much. In fact, the video goes so far as to ask whether homeless people in major cities have become entirely "invisible."
To test that theory, the NYRM disguised a few willing New Yorkers as homeless people, and had their unsuspecting relatives pass by them on the street. What happened next? As you might have guessed, most people just walked right by, presumably so immune to the sight of homeless people that they didn't even think to look closer.
We'll admit that the video is a little heavy-handed at times. You can kind of guess the punchline coming, and it's somewhat manipulative in its editing. Plus, as one YouTube commenter rightly points out, it's not exactly appropriate to stop and look under someone's hat to see if you might know them. Still, it's a pretty interesting experiment, and one that sheds light on how some members of society can become "invisible" to the people around them.
The video is only the latest attention-grabbing PSA using the tactic of a "social experiment" to bring online eyeballs to a worthy cause. Earlier this month we told you about another such attempt by a British charity that used a sandwich board and some pretty provocative language to make a similar point. [Warning: there's strong language in that clip.]