The short answer to this question? Probably not long, but it’s also just as possible that you get away with something like this for years before finally succumbing to a vicious beatdown.
It’s a question worth asking, because in American culture, this is one of the most egregious, disrespectful things you can do to a person. Though simplistic, the middle finger is a universally enraging insult, a perfect gesture for when you really want someone to know that you’d prefer it if he/she would just fuck off. No one likes to receive a middle finger, but when it does happen, the first instinct is to punch the person who gave it right in the face.
So what would happen if you spent every day of your life walking around giving the middle finger to everyone you see? You’re not saying anything in this scenario; you’re just making sure each and every person you see is getting a fat middle finger right to the face.
It’s not far off to say you’d probably be in a brawl by the end of the first day, especially if you do something like flip off a young child right in front of his/her parents. But you could likely run away from them if you had to. The success of this experiment really hinges all on your situation and surroundings, because you will most assuredly be dead immediately if you:
- Stroll into a rough neighborhood
- Give the finger to everyone at a Yankees game while wearing a Red Sox jersey (or anything, really)
- Flip off a gang of white supremacists
- Get on a crowded subway car with no way out
- Do it to a room of terminally ill children and their nurses
Driving, of course, presents its own host of dangers, but if you’re just walking down the sidewalk like it’s any normal day, flicking people off with as much gusto as you can offer, you could probably get by relatively unscathed for a decent period of time. A lot of people might just think you’re crazy. However, there are going to be plenty of other people who won’t think that and will be perfectly willing to chase you down, mustering more speed as they watch you flip off even more people while being chased. Still, you’d probably make it through at least one day.
You’ll never know, though, until you go out there and try it for yourself. Good luck!