I really should have learned not to trust the weather forecast by now, yet time and time again I make the mistake of believing what they tell me and, as a result, end up wearing my thermals in tropical temperatures, or being soaked to the skin in a torrential downpour, because the forecast assured me there was no chance of rain today.
I admit that part of the problem is me – I like to travel light, and struggling through the day, laden down with clothing suitable for any possible eventuality is just not for me. The other issue lies with the inherent unpredictability of weather itself. We like to think we have it sussed, but in reality, there’s still a lot of luck and educated guesswork involved.
Weather patterns are governed by chaos theory, and any chaotic system is by definition, pretty unpredictable. At best, we can identify some broad rules that govern how things might turn out, but there’s no guarantee that they’re going to hold true.
You might think the same could be said about life, but – unlike the weather – human beings, on the whole tend to be pretty boring and predictable. No matter how diverse we ourselves and our activities may be, we tend to follow clear patterns of behaviour and much of what we do is well ordered and structured. Whilst this still leaves plenty of space for surprises and the unexpected, it’s generally a pretty predictable system: Most of us will have little trouble in predicting what tomorrow, next week, next year or even further into the future is likely to bring, even down to specific details.
Then we have SL – somewhere that you’d imagine would be more ordered and less variable than RL. Computer systems and applications are fundamentally different to organic, chaotic systems – they are based on logic, fixed rules, and should be inherently stable. SL as a platform is no different, however as a virtual world, it’s a different story. The countless variables and choices that face the virtual resident, together with the almost unlimited freedom SL offers and the unique set of circumstances, scenarios and opportunities it presents means that the inworld environment is far more unstable and far less predictable than the real world.
All of us will have stories to tell about the weird, wonderful and downright bizarre occurrences that we’ve experienced inworld, and every time we log in, it’s with the certain knowledge that no matter how well we’ve planned things out, the chances are that the unexpected will occur. Few would disagree that SL is pretty much organised chaos, but that’s not a bad thing – it’s the chaotic nature of the place that adds so much to its charm.
I for one wouldn’t want an SL that was as routinely predictable and well ordered as my day to day life… But maybe that’s because my life is already a study in chaos theory anyway!
I am the wilderness locked in a cage
I am a growing force you kept in place
I am a tree reaching for the sun
Please don’t hold me down
Oh Laura – Release Me