If I speak, I am in trouble – By @sammcollinss

If I speak, I am in trouble

Troublemaking is an art. 

And one I believe should be analysed through a broad lens.

My working definition for troublemaking: the purposeful disruption of any system or schema. 

It’s a powerful, primitive thing and is at the heart of many of human’s greatest feats – there was literally no need for us to go to the moon. 

World-changing political movements like the French Revolution and Trump’s rise to power, both founded on troublemaking. 

It also has a crucial role in the development of humour, entertainment and storytelling.

Without troublemaking, we’re a boring species.

But it’s a double-edged sword, and a sharp one too. 

In my experience, causing trouble is about as fun as it gets being a human. And although life is of course about more than just having fun, it’s very, very important to me. 

So, here’s a short breakdown of my favourite forms of troublemaking: 

*NB. This is all completely subjective and I hope you disagree with most, if not all of it.


A real crowd favourite. We humans love having our expectations challenged and proved wrong. Exposure can take on many forms within the troublemaking genre; it might be a big reveal – a joke or a magic trick – we seem to revel in having the rug ripped from beneath us. 

It might be the exposure of someone who either exerts power over others or holds views completely at odds with those of your audience. My personal favourites in this category; Sacha Baron Cohen and Louis Theroux. Different styles, same outcome – the deceptive exposure of their subjects.

Exposure troublemaking is often sadly practised in bad faith. Our obsession with the personal lives of celebrities, and the irresponsible actions of people like Julian Assange exemplary of the dark side of exposure troublemaking.


Subverting a set of rules in a category whether in society, media, or indeed the professional world, is a powerful form of troublemaking. 

This was an element in the foundations of some of the world’s most game-changing businesses. Nike and Apple – both founded on principals that did not at the time exist in their categories – fitness wasn’t a lifestyle until Nike came along. 

Subversion is probably the most popular form of troublemaking used in advertising. Suddenly a car company might start making long films, a beauty business stops using traditional models and a detergent company tell you they’d like you stop buying so much of their product.

Subversion is great. Big fan.   


A contemporary yet controversial subset of the troublemaking genre. Oftentimes trolls are maligned for preserving their anonymity whilst engaging in the spread of fake information, political interference and the cruel, loathsome activity of online bullying. 

There are times where trolling can become a beautiful tool. Nowhere more so than when someone flew Katie Hopkins out to Prague, just to call her a cunt.


Pranking gets a bad rep.

“This is immaturity on a nuclear scale.” My best mate said to me after we’d sent a stripper to his house acting as an Environmental Health Officer.

“Do you not have anything better to do?” My brother said to me after my sister and I perfectly rearranged the furniture in his room to mirror it’s original layout. 

“I genuinely thought I was about to sell a £30million house.” My ex-girlfriend’s dads’ employee said to me after I’d led him to believe an Israeli billionaire wanted a townhouse off him in Regents Park.

“You’re going to have to pay for that.” My dad said after I keyed his car. 

I stand by a well-timed, well-executed prank. They’re a thing of beauty. It demands the creation of a story that develops, arcs, may take some unexpected twists and crescendos beautifully in a moment of relief, realisation, or mild disappointment for the subject. 

Pranking is a form of storytelling or an elongated joke. One that in its purest state demands nuance, narrative weaving and overly elaborate props. 

And it’s by far my favourite form of troublemaking.

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