Most of us would rather forget 2020 ever existed, and there are perhaps a few who might want to give it another try without the pandemic unpleasantries. Unfortunately, the year of Covid will earn its page in future history books, amongst the darkest chapters of humanity. As if the rapid spread of the virus wasn’t depressing enough, the media thought it would do an honorable service by highlighting the tragedy with rising case numbers, and threw a few horrific stories about violent protests and political garbage in for good measure. Of course, no one deserves violence, or a nasty virus, but with most of us stuck at home for over half a year, is it any wonder why some people like myself came to loathe news reports? I used to listen to the daily news religiously. Now, pardon the pun, I avoid it like the plague.
During the torturous hours of quarantine, some of us created content, and some of us took it all in. I came up with ideas for a podcast, but had little breathing room, and thus lacked the will to make those ideas a reality. Still, I was thankful for the new content landing in my Youtube and podcast feeds. That was one of the best things that came out of the pandemic, along with being allowed to attend lectures in my pajamas thanks to Zoom classes. I also got to relive the feeling of joy you get when you can read a book for pleasure instead of pain. English lit classes took the joy out of reading for me, especially when a professor assigned 200 pages a week during the pandemic, not even considering we had other classes to attend and a family to look after. When I took a much needed break from school since I’d been going for 7 years and was already suffering burn-out when the pandemic hit, I finally picked up a book, finished it, and was very proud of myself. It actually felt good to read again, and I read something that I loved for once.
One of my biggest gripes is not having enough privacy, and during the pandemic I’m sure most of us had to deal with people breathing down our necks with every step we walked. I’m sure there were at least some of us who longed for the days of being able to go out on the town, if for nothing more than to walk alone and absorb the atmosphere. I craved the mundane walks around the mall when I didn’t buy anything. I even missed walking in between classes and letting students sit next to Zappa before going into a final exam. I remember one in particular who was crying on a bench, and as we walked by, Zappa noticed her and decided I should take a break as well. I had time to kill, and it was so beautiful to see the student’s mood change drastically with Zappa’s head on her knee. She went into the classroom with a smile. Now, I had to deal with inaccessible slides while professors rambled on into their microphones and pointed to various things on the screen. I’d never felt so disconnected in all my life. I can only imagine a ton of people were feeling the same way, which made adventures like the Randonautica app tempting when it came along.
So, just what is Randonautica? According to
This article on New York Times
It is “An app that generates coordinates for adventurers claims to turn your thoughts into reality.”
Supposedly, if you give the app an intention, in other words, do you wish to find peace or death, the app presents a random set of coordinates for you to find with Google Maps. Once you’ve reached this destination, you should hopefully find what you’re intending. Curious to read more like I was? I encourage you to continue reading the article with the link I provided. I find the concept behind Randonautica fascinating, but I find it’s useful for entertainment purposes only, pretending to seem real by using “Quantum numbers”. Content creators thrive on new apps and products to increase their subscriber count, some making a living off of their videos. To keep viewers engaged, they have to weave a tale that seems convincing enough for others to want to try it themselves. The idea that storytelling is a form of advertisement isn’t new, but now, it’s used all too frequently that it’s overwhelming.
As a lover of shows like The Twilight Zone and Unsolved Mysteries, I quite enjoy the rabbit hole that is Randonautica. If you’re bored and want something to watch with the lights off, you could try the following video.
Here’s another video for you to enjoy.
Well, you know the drill. Keep searching and you’ll find a treasure trove of videos. What you do with them is up to you. For me, this brings some questions to mind.
- The timing of Randonautica’s appearance, is it fortunate, or not?
- What does this say about the human/technology relationship?
- Why do most of the scenarios we’ve seen on the internet start with such negative intensions? Is the virus to blame for such energy?
Is timing really that important?
I recall having been told on numerous occasions that things happen for a reason, and only when it’s the right time. I’ve never come to believe that, and given what’s going on right now, anyone who dares say those words out loud is just asking for trouble. Personally, I believe events happen as a response to previous ones, and timing is irrelevant. Call it karma, cause and effect, or whatever you choose. There are consequences for everything that happens, well, almost everything.
Life would be boring of not for its little surprises, and that’s what I believe Randonautica is, just a coincidence. When I first heard about the app, I thought it came as a result of someone being so bored at home that they just had to come up with something. This idea had been brewing for a little over a year, however. A subreddit existed before 2020 even began, and the app’s beta debut came in late February, when most of us were still living a normal life, aside from the inconvenience of not being able to find toilet paper. By the time the app gained popularity, most of us were stuck at home with nothing else to do. Lots of people just decided to record their own videos, and of course, lots of people had the time to watch them. I still believe the app would have found popularity, although not as fast as it did. I also have to wonder if the locations in these videos would seem less spookier if more people were out and about. I recall hearing on the news that at one time last year, there was little to no traffic in L.A. I still find that hard to believe. Try to imagine, if you will, this pandemic taking place during the 50’s or 60’s instead of today. I’m sure L.A. would be just as packed as ever, and masks would probably be recommended and not required. There wouldn’t be so many work-at-home opportunities or virtual classes for the children, and there certainly wouldn’t be apps offering to lead you on an adventure. The most horrifying prospect of all? You’d only have whatever books happen to be in the house, and the limited channels on the radio and television to entertain you. This makes me both glad we’re dealing with the pandemic now, but it’s also horrifying to see how much we had to rely on technology just to get us by. Even with all the machines, research, treatments and networks we have today, we were still unprepared for a pandemic of this magnitude to occur in the first place. If this happened 50 years ago, how would we have handled it then?
Before we move on to our next section,
I’ll bet you didn’t see that coming, did you? The element of surprise is still something our machines haven’t fully learned. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Do we control machines, or do they control us?
I’ll be the first to say that I appreciate the technological advances that have granted me a more independent life. I do wish the rate of new technology appearing on the market would slow down. It’s unbelievable that something you bought last year could be consider obsolete by the end of this one. I know I’m exaggerating a little, but it’s hard to keep up with the digital age sometimes.
The fact that an app could generate a set of numbers influenced by a person’s mind sounds intriguing. After all, we’re a curious bunch. Who doesn’t want to explore a random place for the fun of it? I think of Randonautica as a kin to someone standing in front of a map, closing their eyes, and putting a finger on a random destination. Have you ever tried that? I remember the braille maps I used to study in school. Sometimes, I’d just randomly touch spots on the map to plan a dream vacation. What I loved most about that experience was the mystery. I never knew where I’d end up. The only real power at work was the excitement I felt when my destinations were revealed. On one occasion I chose to go from Brazil to Egypt, to France and home again. I could imagine in my mind’s eye what I’d be doing in those places. If I let a machine choose for me, I’ve spoiled the mystery. Where’s the fun in that?
Having said that, if I could try the app just for kicks, I certainly would. Unfortunately I’m not able to see the visual layout of the map on my phone’s screen, so pinpointing the coordinates would be impossible for me to do without sighted assistance. The problem isn’t even the app itself. There’s no harm in having a little fun, and I have to admit I love living vicariously through others as they investigate their randomly generated points of interest. The real problem comes from people actually believing these apps have some kind of power, some to the point of putting their trust in these apps exclusively. Some people may find promising results during their first few uses of the app, and when they don’t in later days, they feel a major let-down, because they put too much faith in the app’s ability to work for them. Others become so emotional over the app because of the coincidences that led them to a destination where they’ve found and experienced horrific things. While I can understand their emotional response to the environment, it’s not the app’s fault for your experience. In the end, you, for whatever reason, chose to go there, and thus you are finding strange items laying about on the ground, seeing dead bodies or witnessing ghostly activity. The app didn’t tell you to end up here, so why give it the credit?
An episode of The Twilight Zone comes to mind. In the episode entitled “Nick of Time”, a husband and wife enjoy a meal at a diner while they wait for their car to be fixed. They come across a fortune-telling machine that allows you to ask it a simple question, and upon inserting a coin, it will dispense a slip of paper with the answer. The husband asks the machine if he’ll get a promotion, and upon receiving a positive result, calls the office and confirms that he did indeed receive his promotion. He becomes obsessed with this machine, and wants to spend as much time sitting there asking it questions. I won’t give the end away, because you simply must watch the show if you haven’t, but his faith in a simple machine reminds me of these users telling their stories about how Randonautica is dangerous and that we should be careful while using it. My one question, especially to Youtubers and TikTokers who continually post content while using the app? Why on earth do you keep using it if you’re so convinced that it’s dangerous? Are you that desperate for subscribers and followers that you’ll do anything they suggest, even if it means putting yourself in harm’s way? This tells me one of two things, both of which are terrifying. Either a person truly believes the app is powerful and stops using it, which means they’ve let a simple program get the best of them. People also could be unconvinced by the app’s ability to lead them to a dangerous place, but repeated use the app to impress their followers who can’t get enough of danger on their computer screens, which again shows that machines have the power given to them by such individuals. These are just programs, and the people behind these keyboards may or may not care about your safety. If you feel you have to keep doing things to please your followers especially when it makes you feel uncomfortable, please stop. Your life is so much more than a number of subscribers. You are worth more to the world when you are just being you, not a person slaving over a machine to please the masses.
So what’s with al this negativity?
The last thing I want to hear when I turn on my computer in these painful moments in history is that someone wants to seek death. In most, if not all the videos I’ve come across, there are far more negative intentions people enter into the app than positive ones. Seriously? Turn on the news, and you’ll see people dying from shootings, viruses or car accidents. Why do you want to bring more of that negativity to your life by seeking it out? I shouldn’t be the one to tell you that death is no laughing matter, and if you happen to find death, remember, this is another life lost, and even though you weren’t the cause of it, you benefited from this person’s death because you just wanted to test out an app. I get that life is always violent, no matter what we do to try and escape it. I believe this is the very reason people have begun using this app with such tragic results is because of the virus. We have been stuck in our homes under quarantine for God only knows how many days now, and there is a burning desire for life to return to normal. Instead of busy streets filled with people from all walks of life, we have empty streets, constant reminders of the virus being shoved down our throats, and financial, medical, and emotional factors causing a great deal of stress. Maybe people just need a break from the virus, from people yelling at us to wear masks, from children not being able to socialize with their friends outside, from being confined in a place once thought to be a safe haven. I feel like all this death, blood and ghost stuff are protests against the virus. While we’re living in hell, there’s a world just beyond our door that needs to be revisited, and all we want is just to get back to normal, even if it means seeing dead bodies and blood running down the gutter.
Here’s an idea. Why don’t we focus instead on using machines to better the lives of others? If you’re looking for an adventure, google volunteer positions at nearby agencies, and your computer should come up with an overwhelming list of options for you to choose from. If by chance you do feel like having a little fun, I encourage you to explore safely, travel with friends, and try to put positive energy towards the endeavor. Death and violence will happen whether we want it to or not, but we don’t have to go looking for it.
So, is that filthy virus causing the app to grow in popularity? I believe the only variable contributing to the app’s use is the rate of popularity. I don’t believe as many people would have the time to use such apps with active lives. Just remember, if you should decide to use Randonautica, follow all safety precautions, and always stay alert. There are some people who no doubt know about these apps and use them as a way to hunt people for their own selfish means. Most importantly, remember to have fun! Life doesn’t have to stink because there’s a nasty virus going around and you can’t hang out with your friends. Start your adventure with a positive attitude and just enjoy yourself.
I applaud any act of genius that brings a little fun and excitement to this world. Whether it’s a sophisticated equipment that that prints prosthetic limbs for amputees, or a tiny program that guides you through a virtual tour of our solar system, we’re blessed to have a wealth of knowledge, entertainment and creative outlets at our fingertips. This can be a curse if we allow it. Ultimately it is up to us to walk away from the machines if we are being bombarded, and heaven knows we all deserve the right to live normal, productive and exciting lives beyond these four walls. In time, I hope we can all start rebuilding again, but for now, all we can do is try to find joy in the journey, and do all that we possibly can to keep ourselves and others healthy. If you should have the opportunity to embark on an adventure with a unique digital twist, remember that you and you alone control your own destiny. We can’t predict all that’s going to happen to us, and neither can our machines. Many explorers sailed the seas, greeted by nothing but expanses of water for months until they finally found land. Our lives will undoubtedly be the same way, and we should be glad of that. We’d have no reason to live without adventure.
Well, that does it for now. I hope all my readers are safe, healthy and happy. Remember, if you’re struggling, there are resources to help. Reach out if you need someone to talk to. Isolation is painful to the soul, and no one can survive alone. Take care, and have a fabulous day. 🤗