I’m sat on a bench – or should I say, perched precariously on the only narrow sliver of bench that doesn’t come complete with a strategically placed puddle of wetness – waiting for a train. Staring across the tracks to the platform opposite, I’m struck by the number of signs, of various types, that a disembarking passenger is suddenly faced with upon leaving their train.

It’s a morass of arrows, barely decipherable icons and bold capital lettering, that in any other context would be considered unseemly. And the vast majority of the signs plastered over the walls, pillars and railings opposite are, I’m afraid, completely redundant and unnecessary.

There are at literary four ‘Way Out’ signs, all pointing the same way, a couple of which are adjacent to each other, plus an ‘Exit’ and a variety of symbols which appear to be saying exactly the same thing. In fact, along the length of just one platform, there must be something in the region of 50+ items of signage, almost all of which is multiply redundant.

It’s the same in the street – signs everywhere, in their masses, all demanding our attention and dictating our paths and behaviours. Throw in the satnavs , map apps and the plethora of navigational aids that are such an ‘essential’ part of modern everyday life, and you have to wonder how anybody ever manages to get lost at all!

Yet we do, frequently.

Even though I have frequently had the need to be immensely grateful for a strategically placed and timely pointer that has averted disaster and saved me going completely off-track, I can’t help holding the opinion that human beings basically have little or no sense of direction. Compared to members of the animal kingdom that might migrate thousands of miles, without any prior knowledge of the route or assistance, we’re definitely lacking in the navigational department! Even when we have every possible aid at our disposal, it can be too much for us: I fondly remember wandering, hopelessly lost, around the souks of Fez – despite following the ‘clearly signposted’ walking route, whilst the locals had a good laugh at my ineptitude as I found myself passing through the same alleyways, time and time again!

I like being lost; I like wandering aimlessly through back streets and lesser explored byways; I enjoy going off the beaten track, taking the circuitous route, and following my unerring sense of non-direction. It’s precisely by doing just that, I’ve discovered some truly wonderful places and had some amazing experiences. It’s one of the reasons that I enjoy exploring SL so much. When inworld, you never quite know what’s around the next corner, and even if you are using either the world or mini map, they can only really tell you the general lay of the land, and an awful lot of the virtual landscape isn’t even down on the ground!

I’ve been asked on occasion how I manage to find some of the great inworld places where I spend my time entertaining myself. Almost always, the answer is simply that they are random discoveries I’ve come across whilst wandering the Grid, usually without any clear plan or path. Occasionally, I’ll wind up somewhere interesting that I’ve been ‘signposted’ to – more often than not by grabbing an interesting looking landmark from somebody’s profile – but, as we all know, landmarks can be terribly ephemeral and temporary things in SL, and can be awfully unreliable at doing the very thing for which they are intended.

To be honest, I don’t think that SL would be half as interesting if it was well-signposted. The one thing that signage in the real world is rather good at is getting us from A to B, without diverting from the chosen route – it may be quicker, more straightforward and much more efficient, but I personally think that it’s a prime way to miss out on a lot of scenery, points of interest and fun. Given the choice, I’d always pick the rambling country roads over the straight, fast, but boring, motorway and the same holds true for me in my virtual travels.

By all means, point me in the general direction of adventure, but don’t be too prescriptive in how I get there. I’m far more interested in finding my own way, and I don’t really need any help, even if I happen to be going in completely the wrong direction!

s. x

This is the sign of the times
Time to be alone
This is the sign of the times
Piece of more to come
Belle Stars – Sign Of The Times

This entry was posted in Philosophicalisticality, Rants, RL, SL, Tales of the Road, Tour Guide. Bookmark the permalink.

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