There has been talk for many years about “gamification,” that is, that way of making certain experiences similar to a game (sometimes with video game language) and therefore more enjoyable to live. Especially when it comes to experiences that can be exhausting to live through, such as a diet or running. This is a good trick that, through challenge and reward mechanisms keeps the user’s interest high. Allowing him to eventually do something that in itself could only be burdensome.
A similar mechanism is one that started three years ago now on TikTok as a fun challenge: it is called #[non vedi/trovi qualcosa] and challenges those who participate to record their runs until they come up with the object of the challenge. Which can be anything: over time it has been a polar bear, a unicorn, two people hugging each other. The #rununtil tag has now totaled 614 million views on TikTok. Its purpose is purely to generate fun by introducing the mechanism of treasure hunting into an activity that can be boring and repetitive.
Born by chance
The trend was born accidentally, reportedly from a challenge issued to Brandon Pratt, a chemical engineer, by his sister-in-law, who told him to run until he saw a duck.
From then on, and also thanks to comments from people who saw these videos suggesting other challenges, the game got more and more people involved.
One of them is Nat Long, a 30-year-old British woman who for the past year or so has been posting videos of her running “until.” So far she has found octopuses, dogs in coats, and a polar bear. In a stuffed version, fear not.
Replying to @nuris 🌵 was about a 2 mile run to the polar bear 🐻❄️ and then I forgot to film my watch so this is my watch when I got back home 🏃♀️ #natruns #rununtil #polarbear #run
What happens if you find the challenge object? Nothing. Just as nothing happens if you don’t find it. You suffer no disqualifications and no one burns your running shoes. Perhaps it is the carefree lightness of this game that makes it so popular and beloved. After all, Nat herself says, ““Sometimes, if I reach 10 miles, I say that’s it. I can’t find the thing,” She also says another very interesting thing, which is that this game has pushed her to be more attentive to what is around her when she runs (after all, she has to search the landscape for something specific) and to appreciate her runs more. To slow down, in a sense.
Since this is a game, you have to take it in the right spirit but always keeping in mind a few common sense rules, like carrying water with you in case you stay out longer than usual and then not running more than you are trained to do, just to bring home the prey, at least metaphorically.
And, in case the challenge is clearly impossible, try to be creative. For example, Laura Green recommends looking in the clouds for the unicorn, since it is impossible to find it on Earth (unfortunately ☹️).
It may be a passing fad, but what harm does it do? Nothing, in fact: it pushes people who have never tried it to run or walk in search of something crazy or improbable, introducing a little magic into their lives. And it makes the runs of those used to training more fun and challenging. On the hunt for unicorns.
(Via Washington Post)