An odd thought crossed my mind this morning – like most of my thoughts that I share on here, I’m sure you’re thinking. It was one of my early starts: The sun was still struggling through its first coffee of the day before parting the cloud curtains and peering through to see what sort of a day it was going to be in the world below, and the only other people on the streets were dogwalkers and joggers.
As I passed by the darkened windows and drawn curtains, the random part of my brain, having little else better to do, went off into its own unique world of weirdness. It was considering my little inworld railway, and how the trains sound their whistle at various points on their journey. It toyed with the idea that the neighbours probably don’t appreciate such a racket first thing in the morning, or late at night, and perhaps I should do something about it.
It was at this point that the sensible part of my brain muscled its way back into the frame, gave randomness a slap and told it to get a grip… Normal conventions of time do not, of course, hold much sway inworld, and terms like ‘morning’ and ‘night’ are largely irrelevant. This is illustrated by a scenario that regularly crops up when members of my regular circle of friends log in and out – since it’s usually at the end of my evening, it’s natural to wish them a good night – but then I remember that they’re somewhere in the States, when it’s mid afternoon, or Australia, where they’re probably off to breakfast, or Upper Volta, in which case I have absolutely no idea. No-one seems to have a problem with this, but when the realisation dawns, I feel the need to give a time-appropriate greeting, only to make myself feel weird because I’m saying ‘good morning’ to someone, when a quick glance out of the window clearly tells me it should be ‘good night’.
SL is one of a few places where life really does go on 24/7 – unlike my local supermarket, which purports to be so, but closes early on a Sunday, and if you do happen to turn up to do the weekly shop at 3am, they look at you strangely and assume you’re there to stack shelves. Instead, in SL, the activity continues unabated throughout the circadian cycle. As Europe starts to log off, bleary-eyed and partied out, America is logging on, all ready to have a nice day; and in the bits in between, different time zones are all doing their own thing in their own time, no matter what the SLT clock may be saying.
Not that SLT is anything but an artificial construct anyway – yes, it’s a handy frame of reference that we can employ to ease the organisation of events and get-togethers, but it serves no real purpose apart from that – unless you happen to live in San Francisco it really has no practical use, other than providing that common link between disparate parts of the world. It doesn’t even tie up with the inworld day and night cycle – by the time the clock has made full circle in RL, almost a week will have passed inworld, running to its crazy 4-hour day and night cycle. SL years are like dog years: According to SL, a ten year old avatar would be nudging 60 in the real world, (no wonder I feel old).
Not that any of that matters anyway, since we’re at liberty to freely alter the time to suit ourselves whenever we fancy. I always have a little smirk at a club I frequent in SL, where the advice is anyways to set the time to midnight for the best experience… I don’t: I always put my settings to Torley’s ‘Raw Sewage’! (best not to ask!) – The plain fact is that everyone present could well have their day cycle set to a completely different time, totally at odds with what the real world time may be in their location, and nothing like the official time that Linden Lab are telling us it is. Potentially totally confusing, yet somehow we all seem to cope, even if – like me – you haven’t a clue how SLT relates to real time, at any time!
To return to my morning thoughts… Eventually, the sun decided it was having nothing to do with today and headed back to the duvet for a lie-in, leaving the clouds – now bored with hanging about in the sky – to descend to earth in a thick grey pall of foggyness; like God’s flatulence, only without the smell. In the gloom, it didn’t really matter what the time might be, other than it definitely felt far too early to be up and about, and I came to the conclusion that it also didn’t really matter whether my trains whistled in the day, night, or any other time – it was irrelevant… If they were going to annoy anyone, they would do so whatever the time.
And that’s exactly what they’re going to keep on doing.
The train kept a rollin’ all night long
With a heave and a ho
I just couldn’t let her go
The Yardbirds – Train Kept A Rollin’