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