During a recent conversation inworld I realised a couple of things: Firstly, many people – myself included – may think they have a decent grasp of geography, but can find to their cost, that on occasion they actually know squat; secondly, the quickest way of getting from A to B may well be a straight line, but in the real world, a straight line is sometimes not even an option.
An SL friend was visiting my home country – Wales – and the suggestion was made that they should visit a particular location. Great idea, except the person making the suggestion had wrongly assumed that Wales is a tiny place where everywhere is within walking distance. In fact, what they’d suggested was possibly the craziest journey you could try to attempt around here.
Let me explain: Wales is pretty small, but a heck of a lot bigger than people think. Although it’s fairly conveniently shaped, there’s a pile of inconvenient mountains in the middle which make it far too lumpy to cross with ease, also nobody imagined anyone in the North or East would ever want to go anywhere else, so all the half decent transport links are in the South and West – I say half decent, because even they don’t go all the way, it’s as if they stopped half way to admire the view and decided not to bother going any further.
Anyway, my friend is staying in the South East, and the destination in question is in the North East – about 100 miles as the crow flies, but in reality, depending on road conditions and traffic, between 4 and 6 hours drive. Public transport is no better, requiring a 7 hour journey of around 300 miles – not for the faint hearted… I know I’ve done it! In this particular instance, a straight line is pretty much impossible!
All too often, we can jump to conclusions without knowing the big picture, and what may seem to be a simple journey may be anything but. This certainly holds true for SL – and is often cited as a fundamental reason for the high drop-off rate of noobies after sign up. You log in for the first time, head off to explore and find yourself surrounded by beautiful people, living in fabulous homes enjoying a wide and varied social calendar; they come to the conclusion that these things may be easy to come by and are rapidly disappointed to discover that it’s nowhere near that simple. Disillusionment follows and the rose coloured glasses are soon tinted with the true colours of virtual reality.
It’s not just the noobs though who face those harsh lessons. Even after years inworld, I still fool myself that – if I really wanted – I could be a virtual millionaire, become an expert in mesh design and make it big in the virtual world… After all, how difficult can it really be? Time, and time again I’ve learned the answer to that question is invariably ‘far more difficult than you’d imagine’, and faced disillusionment myself when I realise I don’t have what it takes.
However, it strikes me that maybe I’m looking at things in completely the wrong way. I’ve always said that the journey is every bit as important as the destination – whether you’re taking the circuitous route from South to North, or getting to grips with learning Blender.
Take my job, which requires me to travel extensively, meaning I spend long hours just sitting on the train – in the beginning it was exciting, then it became incredibly boring, but I’ve learned to make the most of my journeys: Looking up snippets of information and fascinating facts about the places I pass through, enjoying the scenery and making the most of the time that travelling gives me… This very post is being written on the train!
Over time, I’ve learned to make my travel miles count and the same must be true of SL. Sometimes that straight line between aspiration and outcomes simply doesn’t exist, and it’s going to take time, the odd wrong turn and restart, some backtracking and a whole load of downtime before you get to your destination, and impatience isn’t going to get us there any quicker.
So, we might as well accept it, and enjoy the journey!
It’s those big wheels are ready to roll
We’ve be flyin’ high and so low
Lord, and all this madness, ain’t crazy as it seems
Everywhere they stop and stare
I’m just a stranger on this road
Blackfoot – Highway Song