Many times in my life I have explained a complex and difficult social situation to a peer in the hope that they may assist in some way. Things like “Dude, I can't get a date for the prom, what should I do?”

Every time, I get the same response. “DO A BARREL ROLL” they yell, often accompanying the phrase with excessive arm gestures.

I am still at a loss as to how exactly to reply to this statement.

Now, I must admit, barrel rolls are useful things. They deflect enemy lasers. They can also be used to disorient your friends when in cockpit mode.

However, barrel rolls only work in this manner in Starfox, which does not often correspond to real-life situations. In real-life situations, things can go quite differently:


John have been assigned to do a group presentation in school, but he had a particularly bad case of the stage fright. As he nervously shuffled to the front of the class, he started to wonder to himself how to overcome his fear of presenting.

In a flash of insight, he realized the correct course of action to cure him of his phobia:


He broke into a run to the front of the room. He jumped and began a spinning dive. His class and his teacher stood amazed at this sudden and quite unannounced performance. Just as he was about half-way through his first rotation, the stunt was brought to an early halt by the classroom wall. His skull collided with it at about 14 miles per hour. He broke through the first layer of cinder block, but was stopped dead by a load-bearing steel beam behind it.

The ambulance arrived 17 minutes later. John never regained consciousness. His family was forced to pull the plug after they ran out of money to pay medical bills.

His teacher gave the group a failing grade at his funeral.


Bill had been looking for a creative way to ask Jill out to the prom for quite a while now. He had toyed with several ideas: setting all the computers’ desktops to a prom-asking-out desktop, hiring a skywriter, blackmail, etc.

Suddenly he remembered what his buddy John had told him before his tragic end:


Yes, thought Bill. This was clearly the best way to ask Jill to prom. He would simply do a barrel roll directly into her arms, produce a bouquet of flowers from his sleeve, and then ask her out right there and then.

Now, Bill wasn’t stupid. He realized John’s mistake, and picked a location far from any walls for him to accidentally kill himself on. He picked a picturesque spot on the school’s mezzanine level. (It was a fancy school.) He decided to surprise Jill when she walked by that spot to her locker at the end of school.

Sure enough, Jill walked right by at about 3:02. Bill was prepared. He ran at her, jumped, and started spinning. He did a full 360 degree rotation, and landed right in Jill’s arms, producing the bouquet along the way. As Jill staggered backward, he popped the question. “Jill will you go to prom with—”

However, Bill had forgotten to take into account the law of conservation of momentum. Jill continued to stagger backward...right over the balustrade.

They both fell 30 feet head-first towards the floor below. Blood and gore splattered everywhere, ruining several other girls’ prom dresses which they were showing off to each other.

Jill’s autopsy later determined that her next word would have likely been something along the lines of “Ah, no.”


Joe was attending a teenage house party. He had been to several teenage parties before and had survived with his morality intact: he hadn’t drank, he hadn’t smoked any weed, and he hadn’t had sex. And yet he still had a lot of fun.

Now, however, was a new situation. The girl he had a crush on, Agnes, offered her a drink and asked him if he could hang out with her for a while “in private”. Joe didn’t know what to do. This opportunity might not present itself again.

Then he remembered his tragically late friend Bill’s saying:


Joe made sure there were no walls he could run into and no mezzanines to fall off of. Then he took off running. He did a diving leap into the air and began spinning. He landed right into a mosh pit. Now, these moshers were particularly drunk, and most were somewhat violent when surprised. The mosh pit broke out into a fistfight. The moshers gradually dispersed throughout the party, sparking conflict and confusion wherever they went.

Soon the whole party was in an uproar. Chairs were thrown at people. Bottles were broken and used as shanks. Clothing was removed forcibly from the bodies of attractive girls.

Now, this massive party-fight did not go unnoticed by the neighbors. Soon the police arrived on the scene to contain the party. However, the police were misinformed as to the nature of the situation and sent a full SWAT team, expecting a hostage situation.

So the SWAT team arrived on the scene. They attempted to make contact with the party-goers, who were too drunk and in pain to respond. They sent in a negotiator, who went missing. So they stormed the party.

Shots were fired into the mosh pit and surrounding points. Fourteen people dropped to the floor, dead. The party cleared out quickly.

Joe could not live with himself afterward for causing the massacre and two weeks later committed suicide by jumping in front of a subway train. He ruined Agnes’s commute in the process.


George was driving home one day from work. He got stuck in traffic on the interstate—as always. Why don’t they just widen this road? he thought to himself as he passed by the historic buildings which stood inches from the highway.

He continued mentally fuming about traffic for several minutes. How could I get around the traffic? he thought.

Then it came to him like a bolt from the blue. Before his son Joe had tragically taken his own life and made George swear off public transportation forever, he had told George something:


George swerved off the highway and onto the shoulder. He accelerated to about 120mph and turned the wheel sharply to the left. The car’s left wheels left the road surface. The vehicle flipped seven times and ricocheted off the jersey barriers right into a gasoline truck. The truck exploded and sent twelve cars flying hundreds of feet into the air. They fell back to the highway as flaming wrecks. Forty other cars crashed into the heap of twisted metal on the highway.

It took six weeks to reopen the road.


Ryan was a commercial airline pilot. He was in the middle of landing his Airbus A380 one day when the landing gear refused to go down. He tried every troubleshooting tactic in the operator’s manual, but none worked.

However, he remembered what his recently deceased friend George told him:


The plan was just crazy enough to work. Perhaps the centrifugal force would knock the landing gear out of the plane, he thought.

Ryan turned up the throttles to maximum and deployed the flaps. The plane began to climb. At 10,000 feet he began the barrel roll. He retracted the flaps and shoved the control stick all the way to the left. The plane slowly began to roll. Several warning bells sounded, but Ryan ignored them.

About halfway through the barrel roll, the left wing sheared off. The plane began to descend quite rapidly. The automated voice in the flight controls started yelling at him: “Woop Woop Pull up! Woop Woop Pull Up!” Ryan tried to control the plane, but it was no use.

The plane continued its decent, and the automated voice in the flight controls began yelling out altitudes: “100, 50, 40, 30, 20, 10…” The plane crashed directly into the busy recently-reopened interstate and exploded in a massive fireball. All 800 passengers died, as well as about 70 motorists on the interstate. The airline he worked for went out of business shortly afterward because of the resulting media firestorm, resulting in the laying off of thousands of workers. The sudden bankruptcy of such a large airline proved to be too much of a shock for the already weakened economy, and it slumped into a deep depression that lasted ten years.


While useful in certain situations, a barrel roll is simply often not the best solution to every one of one’s problems. I suggest that one take a look at each of one’s problems individually and come up with a solution independently of one’s peers requests for one to perform a barrel roll. You may end up saving hundreds of lives.

This has been a public service announcement.

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