Many an illusion has captured the attention of the internet over the years, from The Dress to Yanny/Laurel, but none are quite so terrifying as what this Delta Airlines napkin implies at first glance.
Though the text actually reads “The world is better with you out in it”, as in ‘travel is good so do it’, but many a stray observer will mistake it for “The world is better without you in it”, as in… well. Not the kind of thing you like an airline carrier to tell you. Especially at 30,000 ft.
Imagine you’re just minding your business, munching away on one of those frozen bread rolls, and you whip this out to dust off your crumbs. Tell me you wouldn’t read that as a threat. I’d be desperately scrambling to find my row-mate’s napkin to make sure I wasn’t being singled out for some kind of mafia-style takedown. Excuse me flight attendant, can I please speak to the pilot?! I need to confirm they’re not intent on bringing the plane down with us in it.
The internet reactions to the napkin were golden. Many leaped to point out that it barely makes sense when read as intended, and that there are an infinite number of better ways to communicate that message that avoid a brutally macabre insinuation.
The graphic designers in the thread were more than a little salty, while others replied with similar examples of thoughtless typography.
Delta have been the butt of many a joke, primarily due to infamously terrible customer service (although that’s not unusual when it comes to regional American airlines), and cutting corners wherever possible.
This isn’t even the first time they’ve goofed up on their napkins this year. In February, Delta copped a roasting from passengers who received branded napkins that encouraged the somewhat skin-crawling practice of sending unsolicited contact details to strangers. Doubly gross when you consider that someone probably attempted to send a used one.
So are all the dark and creepy hidden messages in Delta’s passenger necessities pointing to a secret, fear-mongering agenda? Maybe if you can’t convince a customer to get back on one of your flights, you could scare them into never getting on any flight ever again. What’s next, plastic knives with ‘You’re next’ carved into the surface?
Perhaps it’s just a PR stunt – all press is good press after all. I’m just excited to see what kind of nonsense turns up next!