A bit premature

Some characteristics of human behaviour baffle me – one of these is the apparent need that some have to be first in line, even when the benefits of being in that is positively limited, or even dubious.

I see it on every train I catch: Anything up to ten minutes before arriving at a station, there will always be a large number of passengers who will gather their belongings together, vacate their seats and choose to stand uncomfortably in the aisle and carriage doorways for the remainder of their journey. I can completely understand why you might wish to do this if you’re unfamiliar with the journey, or maybe need to be front of the queue in order to sprint off to catch a connecting train that’s soon to depart, but a surprising number of these early risers are regular commuters that follow the same pattern of behaviour, day after day, after day. There’s no advantage to it – once at the station, after being jerked off their feet, they wait nose to tail for the doors, before zombie-shuffling forward like a prozac induced conga.

Not me though. I relax, sit and wait, letting the queue pass until the tail end draws level with me and I can simply stand and walk easily off the train and be on my way. It’s far easier, less stressful and – in my opinion – a far more sensible way to do things. I’m not so sure how it would work in practical terms if everyone used my approach, although I’m sure that if those nearest the door stood up first and all others followed suit, everything would go swimmingly… Fat chance of that though!

It’s always struck me as a bit odd that we human beings are so obsessed with being first for the most mundane outcomes, no matter how inconvenient to us it might be. Certainly, there’s a point to being first in a sporting, academic or aspirational field, but we’re just as obsessed with getting to the front of the queue for far less rewarding results. Personally, I find it inconceivable that anyone should feel the need to camp out overnight on a cold, hard pavement, simply to be first through the shop door for the sales; I really don’t understand why anyone would pay over the odds and head off to the cinema at an ungodly hour to catch a movie premier, blow a load of cash to be the among first buyers of a new car registration, or want to brag about being the first in their group to lay hands on a new stamp, coin or similar. Frankly, in every one of those scenarios, I’d be more than happy to either not bother at all, or just turn up later when the crowds and hype have died down.

Why the big deal about being first in such things? And if you choose the discomfort, inconvenience and effort of getting in at pole position, then you really shouldn’t moan about it.

It’s something I see all the time in SL – a store notice will pop up showcasing a new release, sale or discount and you just know that if you were to jump on the accompanying LM, you’d arrive to find a throng of semi-rezzed avatars clogging up the landing point – no-one, it seems wants to wait. The same is true every time a new gacha event and fayre opens: It can take hours of constant trying before you can get it, and when you do it’s like wading through custard, such is the crazy lag caused by so many avatars trying desperately to be amongst the first to grab their bagful of goodies. Which is very strange, because – unlike RL – the supply is not going to dry up, and whether you manage to get your greasy little bento hands on the first or the millionth of a particular article, both will be exactly the same, down to the tiniest detail; such is the nature of virtual goods. Yet people will try desperately hard to be amongst the very first to avail themselves of what is available – whilst those more sensible, like me, will amble up a couple of weeks later, when the crowds have dispersed and the lag is insignificant, and help themselves to those very same spoils with total ease.

All very odd, at least that’s what I think. How about you?

s. x

Winner takes it all,
Loser takes a fall
Fight to the beginning of the end
Winner takes it all
Sammy Hagar – Winner Takes It All

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