Button pusher

xcdo0azjkmnpi7at6wlvWhy do they put those sticky label things on bags of Cadbury’s Giant Buttons? I know it’s so you can reseal them, but c’mon… Are there seriously people out there who have the willpower not to scoff the whole bag in a single sitting? No way!

I can’t resist buttons – I know I should, but some things are just beyond human capability, and besides… What’s the worst that could happen?

Funny things buttons, they wield an inordinate amount of power over us, not just the chocolate variety, but the big red ones too, and all sorts of buttons of every description in between. So often they compel us into action, even to do things that any reasonable and sane person would never consider under normal circumstances. For example, stick a great big red button on the wall, with the instruction ‘Do not press the big red button’, and the urge that we’ll get to do just that is almost overpowering – indeed, many of us do succumb and give it a good hard whack before running away to a safe distance and adopting an innocent ‘Who me?’ look upon our countenance!

Lift buttons, (that’s elevator buttons to all you Americanians), are almost as bad. Give us a lift to ourselves and the compulsion to push all – yes ALL – of those buttons is overwhelming. Similarly, when the doors are a microsecond too long in closing, you’ll find yourself hammering away on the ‘door close’ button for all you’re worth – although I did read somewhere that these are unlikely to be wired up at all and merely serve as a placebo to keep us subdued and happy.

Oddly, those buttons we really need to push are those that we steadfastly refrain from touching – put a guy right next to a Pelican Crossing** button and he will do everything in his power to pretend it doesn’t exist… even if it means standing there for ten minutes as traffic whooshes by; it’ll take a woman to save the day by reaching past him and pressing the damn thing! (**Sorry, my Americanian friends, I have no idea what the equivalent to a Pelican crossing is over the pond… It’s like one of those ‘Walk/Don’t Walk’ things they have in the movies, but with a button that magically – sometimes – stops all the traffic).

Designers too delight in having fun with buttons. I tend to spend a great deal of time on trains, and with little else to do to pass the time, I find myself constantly amused by the spectacle of some unfortunate soul nonchalantly making their way to the loo, only to make an utter fool of themselves by stabbing ineffectually at all the wrong buttons in order to open the door. Utterly confused, they peer around all the nooks and crannies, pressing nuts, bolts, and anything that vaguely looks like a button, in the desperate hope that it might just be the one. Eventually, having finally succeeded, their embarrassment is compounded when they completely fail to press the ‘lock’ button inside and the next person along reveals them in all their glory to their fellow passengers!

Whilst SL doesn’t sport any particular buttons of note, it does have it’s own virtual equivalent – one that is fast becoming a feature of the past and a part of SL that I really think should be cherished and preserved for the enjoyment of future generations: Poseballs.

There used to be a time when every sim would have its own collection of poseballs: Hovering over chairs and sofas, lurking in corners and scattered pretty much everywhere. And wherever a poseball was to be found, so too was the irresistible urge to click it. Of course, you could never be entirely sure what the outcome might be – and clicking a poseball would often lead to embarrassing, even compromising positions and situations; but of course, that was half the fun of it!

balls_001The days of the poseball are fading fast though – where once they were common, they are falling out of favour, replaced by furniture with discrete embedded animations, menu-driven scripted HUDs, and the new kid on the block – experience keys. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that – it is progress, after all – but that vicarious allure of those mysterious blue or pink balls, or those enticing grey and red ones, without really knowing what they may lead to, is being lost. The almost irresistible urge you feel to click and sit, with absolutely no idea what the outcome might be, is one of those special pleasures almost unique to SL, and I fear that it’s something that may soon be consigned to the digital dustbin of the past.

We can’t lose these wonderful, enticing objects that meet such a deep-seated and fundamental need of the human psyche: The need to push the button… just to see what might happen!

Cherish your balls, I say – because one day, you might just lose them!

s. x

World, my finger is on the button…
My finger is on the button…
My finger is on the button…
“Push the button”
The Chemical Brothers – Galvanize

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