He wears a large hefty beard, camouflage pants, M Frame sunglasses and a popular but controversial (read: edgy) veteran t-shirt. His Instagram is no doubt littered with pictures of him traipsing through the woods in pristine combat wear, toting a rifle, decked out with an optic that costs more than the computer I am typing on. His Facebook is rife with memes telling everyone how he’s the craziest motherf***er on the planet; he calls himself a sheepdog.
He is the Tactical LARPer.
Some of things are simply fashion trends. The beard will likely lose its popularity as people will begin to long for the old days of classy veterans that do not wear their veteran status on their chin — and then people will mock the beard in an edgy way, perhaps calling it a product of the neanderthals or just plain uncivilized. Then it will eventually swing back, away from the clean-cut sterility of the military to the gritty, masculine beard. Back and forth, as trends go.
What is a LARPer? LARPers are Live Action Role Players. They’ve been known to wear wizard hats, firing imaginary lightning bolts into their enemies. They don capes and wield plastic swords, fighting their rival factions. They often meet up on college campuses, parks or other public areas and have at it. Faction fights faction as adults play pretend on an epic scale, and they’ve been doing it for years.
Today’s LARPers have put down their styrofoam axes and picked up airsoft guns — the same amount of imagination, just a different pretend war. That imaginary war has made its way to the pages of social media as well, projecting images across the internet of an “operator” who is not afraid to get his keyboard dirty.
Now that Tactical LARPing seems to be a popular American pastime, it extends to those who did not serve in the military. There is no explicit claim to having served in the armed forces, but anyone scrolling through their feed might just accidentally come to those conclusions. It’s not “stolen valor” if he never explicitly lied.
The same idea is prevalent within veteran circles too. Maybe it’s because the veteran’s identity is deeply connected to the images and memories associated with the military. Maybe he wants to remind everyone how he did something that was hard once. Or maybe he just thinks it’s cool.
An American flag hat is cool. Beards are manly. Practical hiking boots are great. Cryes are comfortable and veteran shirts can be funny and/or great to reminisce with. Expensive gear is certainly nice. Put all of them together? You have an explosion of tacticool screaming in everyone’s face and drawing as much attention as possible (which of course they loudly and proudly “don’t care” about).
Strap on your Opscore, grab your Bellevilles and head out to the nearest airsoft venue — you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Featured image courtesy of Pexels.