Explorer of physical and virtual environments, an adventurer of the mind and a creator of fantastical things
For awhile in my Second Life I was homeless. I would log out at the botanic gardens. I felt itinerant and like a visitor. There is nothing wrong with that, and lots of people do it but I longed for something…more. I wanted to put down roots and become a part of the community and to feel like I belonged.
A home is a shelter first and foremost. It protects us from the elements and holds our things within it. But in Second Life there is no need to be protected from the elements. So why we do we need a home? Why do we still feel that need to be enclosed and protected and somehow private (even though in SL “private” is a rather relative term).
For me, the need to have a home in SL is more emotionally based rather than from any physical need to have somewhere to rest. I COULD be homeless in SL quite easily. There are no rules to say you just can’t log out wherever. You just don’t log out on other people’s properties, unless you have their permission, because it is frowned upon. A home is somewhere you can not only keep your things but it is a place that grounds you.
It is interesting what we choose as our home when we are given the opportunity to choose anything. I was watching a show on Netflix the other night called, The Good Place and basically the Good Place is supposed to represent heaven (it is more complicated than that but if you really want to know what it is about…GO WATCH IT) and when the residents were first shown around their community they are given a home that reflects who they are…their perfect place. Second Life is a lot like that. We have the ability to make or choose the home that directly reflects or represents who we are. It can be ANYTHING. We can live in a space ship or a pixel palace or a hobbit hole but for the most part…people choose houses that we see any day. For a good viewing and snoop around people’s houses, check out Alicia Chenaux’s youtube series, In the House. Some people can be really creative but mostly, people just want comfort and normality.
I am apparently no exception to this. My own house is quite a normal looking house out in the snow. I built it myself. I enjoy tinkering with it. Every now and again, I change it to a new house I have built. But each one is still quite a normal house, comfortably furnished with rooms that reflect normal things. A kitchen, a bathroom, a Lounge room, a bedroom. Even though I have no need to eat or sleep or bathe or even sit. I love it when people visit, it doesn’t happen often as people are busy with their own Second lives, but it is a happy moment to invite someone in to my home, walk them through the front door, let them look around and settle in on comfortable lounge chairs for a time to chat and laugh. It feels like a HOMELY thing to do.
So you see, this idea of a home…it means something to me. It is more than the land I rezz my things out on. It is more than the tier I pay and the space I log in and out in. It is connection to a place and community and people. It is the laughter of friends and the voices of conversation and emotion. It is the place where I let people in. And it is me, inside and out, both the public shell and the clutter within.
The SL Botanical Gardens
The Good Place
Great post on a topic I find endlessly fascinating, that idea of “home” in a virtual world. And I love your line about it being “both the public shell and the clutter within.” Seems to sum it up really well! As for me, I was an SL nomad for years—and still am, I guess, despite my (poorly decorated) little parcel on Escapades. I tend to wander and explore, belonging only tangentially to the communities I regularly frequent. Maybe I prefer it that way… or maybe I’m still somehow searching for a space I feel is truly my own?
I think what I’d *really* love to have is a home that could move around with me—an air and/or space ship, perhaps. (And, somewhere, a nice place to anchor when not out traveling.) Can just imagine a luxuriously appointed captain’s cabin, big enough for all my stuff to be out on display, rather than tucked imperceptibly away in a text-based inventory; I like being able to see what I own around me, even if it’s just digital, and would like it if the abstract were a little more visible. Like a world map spread out on a table or a wall, with landmarks as pins that you could click on… or a walk-in wardrobe for your outfits. 🙂 Unfortunately, that kind of elaborate vehicle-as-home isn’t really feasible in SL, given the way the world operates. But in some other universe, one day…
Maybe I’m simply too geeky to the extreme, but I also think it would be kinda cool if more of the objects in a home were actually “functional” and allowed you to interact with other things you own or have access to, online or on your own hard drive. Almost like an SL-style, avatar-based desktop interface, where you could easily and intuitively browse your files, watch videos, listen to music, work on assignments, etc., but all without having to switch to another window and while feeling like you were still inside that virtual space (and with camera controls that could be automatically zoomed into whatever you were working on or looking at). Heck, even have your virtual bookshelves filled with books you really owned and could click on to open and read.
Still dreaming… 😉