Social engineering: noun. Mostly associated with negative things these days, the manipulation of peoples emotions or perception to gain financial advantage or to trip them into divulging secret information. You see it mostly in phishing emails or other online scams and sadly some people do actually fall for it, or it wouldn’t be as prevalent as it is.
It isn’t all negative though, there is a positive side to this. Have you ever been to the theatre, cinema, watched a TV show and felt your emotions manipulated, happy sad, etc? That’s actors doing their job pretending to be someone else to convince you to feel as if you were in their world – in short, alter your perception!
As people want their entertainment more immersive, it’s also getting closer too. Because if you’ve ever enjoyed a harmless prank or subterfuge at the expense of others, then that too, on a very basic level is a type of social engineering.
We’ve been engaged in this type of work, (the positive, fun kind, not scamming!), for a long time. Having good actors who are experienced at immersive character work and improvisation, then interacting with people who have no idea it’s an act is exactly what we mean. Sometimes there is a big reveal at the end much to everyones delight – (for example our comedy waiters), sometimes only feedback on a realistic situation, -(in assessed police interviews), and sometimes its too secret to even mention again! Shhhh!
We call it invisible theatre: you don’t know you’re watching, or part of a fabricated reality until afterwards. It’s not a new idea but we do it well and enjoy ourselves immensely!