Randonauting: A creepy real-life choose-your-own-adventure
Randonautica. The word looks like some made-up thing out of the latest sci-fi show you haven’t seen yet. It also looks like it could be the title of a cute little indie video game. Or, oddly, it almost sounds like a bug spray to us – maybe we’re on our own with this interpretation though.
Randonautica is not any of those things. Randonautica is an app, available for both Android and iOS, which set out with the purpose of proving we aren’t living in a simulation. (Apparently we’re just living in the sci-fi show we were just postulating about.) Many people, including some scientists, have started to wonder if the universe we live in is “real” or whether we’re computer code – essentially characters in someone’s overly complex game of The Sims.
Now, this app is not likely to prove anything about free will or simulations, but its background already adds a strange eeriness to the concept of the app.
What the app does
The app uses a person’s GPS coordinates and then provides the user with new coordinates to a nearby place. Though, the process of generating this new coordinate requires the user to “think with an intent” while asking for new coordinates – something along the lines of “see something new” or “birds”.
Then, once you’re given the coordinates you go there. It’s really as simple as that. However, now you’re set out looking for anything that might relate to whatever you “intent” might have been. Some people have been shocked by their results. One person reported thinking “see something unusual” and then found an albino squirrel at the end of their trek.
Now, in many cases, this is likely people thinking a vague thought and then searching for any possible confirmation bias. One user reported thinking about rabbits, and although they never saw anything related to rabbits, did reports seeing someone with “carrot orange hair”.
Proving or disproving a simulation?
If we did live in a simulation, obviously this app would have no way of proving that. Randonauting by thinking intently about a thing and then having an app point you to something related would, at least in our opinion, only point to simulation being more likely. A truly random universe would never accurately point you to where you want to be every time.
So, if you do find something you were thinking about, if anything that should be more eerie, because then maybe you’re just pixels on a computer screen after all.
Finding a dead body
The app spiked in notoriety when a TikTok user was recording their randonauting experience only to find a dead body in a suitcase. A group of teens in Seattle were taken to a beach where they came across a black suitcase. They stayed away from it for a short bit joking the suitcase might have money in it.
However, being teens on a quest for an interesting afternoon (and TikTok content) they climbed down to the rocky area where the suitcase was sitting. As they approached one girl yelled out about how much it smelled. Though, things which wash up from the ocean usually smell, so this didn’t deter the teens yet.
They carefully opened the top and pushed it open with what looks like a stick. They all backed away immediately as the smell overwhelmed them. Luckily, all that could be seen in the footage was a black plastic tarp. The teens left the suitcase alone and called the Seattle police. Their TikTok ends with one of the teens in front of a green screen displaying a headline stating there really was a dead body in the suitcase they found.
More positive experiences
Most people are not finding dead bodies when they go out randonauting. Instead, most people are just finding themselves wandering outside of their usual day-to-day paths, and being more present & observant by paying attention to every detail of what’s happening around them while looking for something relating to their chosen intent.
It’s almost like the Pokémon Go craze, except without a phone screen filtering a cute cartoon onto the surrounding area. Instead, you’re meant to look up from the phone and take in the world around you.
One person set their intent as, “love” and found what appeared to be a giant, old, ornate key – other people quickly informed the online user the item was actually a bottle opener, which led people to wonder if this meant she would have to meet someone over drinks. It’s almost like a weird mix of tarot cards & astrology, but with the added bonus of exercise.
Another person reported their two intentions as being luck and childhood, only to be taken to the entrance of their old school.
It’s up to you to decide if randonauting is for you. There’s always some concern to be had about giving an app your GPS data, but we do this nearly every day already.
The app also reminds users not to do this at night and to not break any laws or trespass when randonauting. If a coordinate is on private property then it’s best to just find a new set of coordinates.
So, as long as you’re aware of where you are, and where you’re going you should remain relatively safe. Just don’t follow the coordinates off the side of a bridge or into a dark alleyway at midnight and you should be alright. Though, if you prove or disprove we’re in a simulation is entirely up to you and the app.
What to expect
The results of randonauting have been varied and your results can either be positive, negative, or just boring.
One person reported their intention as being “hope for a child” only to be taken to a headstone in a cemetery saying, “In memory of the children of St. Petka’s Serbian Orthodox Church”. Another person asked for “destiny” only to be taken to the exact coordinates of a trash can. That’s a big oof.
In the end, Randonautica is mostly just an interesting way to get out and explore your own town or city. Though, if you’d like to read more into it, why not? It might make the journey just a little more magical . . . or creepy.