I blame Mera; she started it, with a short discussion of what makes a virtual Home a real home. Then Canary Beck followed that with “A house is not a home“, continuing that discussion. I posted a lengthy reply to that, but want repeat what I said there here (and fix the typos).
I entered SL near the end of 2006 and by the middle of 2007 I found myself and my partner at the time not only TPing home at the end of the day, but also hopping into bed when it was time to sleep in RL, and not logging out. When we slept in RL, we slept in SL. We were online 24 hours a day. There were often direct parallels between RL and our virtual selves.
The feeling of walking back to your computer in the morning when you woke, and seeing yourself still sleeping in-world, was very comforting. Warm fuzzies.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t particularly realistic or practical. If you were online 24 hours a day, and near the end of your first year of SL, you had quite a few friends (2007 was a VERY good year in SL) and many, like yourself, were still fairly new at it. You would end up confusing and frustrating them with your lack of response to IMs, etc. If you marked yourself offline to avoid that, you might find someone accusing you of “hiding” your online status from friends. But the worth part was if you woke the next day to find you had lost your connection, or your partner had, and when you do get to see yourself in-world, you find the bed’s now-empty ball has been taken by a newbie with an over-sized freenis. Eventually it was more trouble than positive so later in 2007, we both stopped doing that. However, I still have never lost the warm fuzzies you get when you log in and see a last-logoff pic of a nice goodbye. Especially if your partner is in the last logoff pic as well. It continues your new day from where the old one left off.
Canary mentioned one of my two favourite song-writing idols, Burt Bacharach (Jimmy Webb being the other). Bacharach’s song may take artistic license with a house not being a house without someone to share it with, but I will say the general sentiment is probably true in that it sure makes a home more of a home if you do have someone else in it. I have a place to genuinely call home in RL now, although it’s just me there. Still, that means there’s room for improvement.
I went to InWorldz because SL had become too expensive to remain creative there. Every single upload cost L$. Every prim counted. I was attracted by InWorldz’ higher limits and lower costs: 45,000 prims, at one quarter the SL cost, and never any upload fees. They were very friendly and supportive of content creators. My plan was to continue in SL as normal, but use InWorldz to make the home that I wanted in SL. A whole region to myself, 75% off. I could even disable Public Access if I wanted and never suffer the evil freenis ever again, because it was mine, all mine. And I could build and build and never have to think about prim limits. I could even build that dream home on the ground and have plenty of prims to build a city at 3000m in the sky. I could take 3 regions from SL and stack them in one InWorldz region. And at a cost of 75% off.
I still had a Premium account in SL, and 512 sqm parcel for my SL Exchange / Marketplace box. My plan was to do everything in SL, including TPing home to that small parcel, then log into InWorldz to experience an improved home like before bed time. Very much like what Canary described, but with the grids flipped.
That soon changed when more and more events started happening in InWorldz, and soon my friends list was far longer there than in SL. Also, as a software developer, I wanted to contribute and volunteered my bugfixing there for about 18 months before they grew large enough to actually hire me full-time. Now it’s a fairly high-pressure job (there’s only a few staff still, and lots and lots of users), but it is what I call my “dream job”. The founders there have the 2006 SL attitude: to enable everyone to live their dreams. It is really what I miss from the good years in SL. And in addition to that, they want to help make the world a better place. Using InWorldz to help kids in Africa, using it to help encourage users to exercise, use it to help support arts and charities, and to just plain encourage people to be creative and live their dreams. There are a lot of good people there. So I have found even more than a Home.
I definitely agree with what I think Canary’s article says or implies: a home is more than just a Home, and a Home can be a real home. I need to spend more time in mine!
Thanks to Mera for starting this train of thought. 😉