They call themselves “Randonauts” and have an app send them randomly determined GPS coordinates. Young people in particular want to escape from such a world in which algorithms are increasingly determining.
To complain about lack of variety and well-trodden paths in times of a global pandemic and civil uprising is at least whining at a high level. And yet the yearning for something new after the weeks of isolation and deprivation is immense.
This is somewhat inconsistent because life before the permanent crisis was not particularly varied. Just take a look at all the programs that more or less regulate our lives. They shape how we talk, what we see, what we remember and who we fall in love with. You might tell your friends that you accidentally came across a new song on the music streaming app. But of course the selection is based on the preferences and mean values saved in the past.
The fact that chance is lost in an increasingly deterministic world is an older accusation against all the sorting and recommendation algorithms of the tech industry. And even without the stirrup holders from Silicon Valley, people tend to be routine. At least in terms of habits and geography. You walk down the same streets to the same cafes, read the same newspaper there, and only now and then does a rebellion come up against the deadlocked life, which – at least in normal times – can be quickly calmed down by one or the other long-distance trip.
Is this just the gimmick of an alienated generation? Or a modern software search for meaning?
A movement bursts into this sadness that wants to escape everyday life and patronizing through technology. And instead propagated coincidence. How is that supposed to work? Of course, thanks to even more technology. In a specially developed app, the random youngsters choose what they want to experience or see, and the program then sends them to, well, randomly determined GPS coordinates. There they should look for deviations from the norm. In the meantime, the gimmick has become a veritable trend. The app, which provides the waymarks for the self-proclaimed “Randonauts”, has now been downloaded more than a million times, and tens of thousands of people on the relevant forums report about their excursions by chance. Most of the travel experiences read banal, which does not prevent the mostly rather young followers from stirring up the hype even in dramatic YouTube videos.
You might think that is a gimmick of an alien generation, for whom the slightest deviation from the status quo is an adventure. Or is it a clever mixture of digital action art and criticism of the powerful, even an inevitable reaction to existing conditions. In any case, a complex worldview with its own terminology is put on the trend. It says more or less that one can influence the course of reality by indiscriminate actions, there is talk of “probability tunnels” and “quantum generators” and the question of whether there can be any real, man-made coincidence. Searching for meaning mixed with problems that also concern mathematicians and philosophers results in a strange type of software esotericism that is amazingly contemporary in the digital present.
The only thing left to do would be to resolve the annoying contradiction that an app of all things leads you to become more independent of other digital helpers. Here and there, the instructions come from the computer. The difference is, however, that the program encourages its users to get involved in something new and challenge existing perspectives instead of just referring to past experience. And to look up from the screen for a change.