I’m a bit of a virtual nomad. Yes, I’ve moved my home again in Second Life. In my almost three years in Second Life, I’ve had six different locations that I’ve set as home. No, this post isn’t about owning virtual property but more about what home means to me in Second Life and why I’ve grown to love moving around to new sims. (As much as anyone owns land in SL; I like to think of it more as a long-term lease like the United States has with the military base at Guantanamo Bay but that’s another post altogether) As time has passed, I’ve grown to enjoy moving more and more. Why, you ask? Part of it is about creativity and expression, but the other is the simple reason is that in a world where we can live anywhere and have any sort of home, I don’t want to stick with one option all the time.
I very much enjoy having a virtual home. I find that it is another way to express myself and enjoy the creativity that Second Life has to offer. Part of it is that I enjoy all that goes into setting one up; I like shopping for homes, furniture, and other digital goodies for my house that seem to match the feel of the property. Yet I also buy into the feeling of place in Second Life. Having a place I call home feels comforting to me and my virtual space becomes a haven that feels safe and cozy and mine.
One interesting thing about my tendency to move is that at first blush, it counters my interest in building community in Second Life. I’ve found this to not exactly be true. While sometimes place and proximity matters in building community while it is also possible to have a network and community of friends scattered around the grid. As I’ve moved around, I’ve made new friends in each new sim; often developing close friendships with new neighbors I wouldn’t have otherwise met. Yet as I’ve moved to new locations, these relationships have often (but not always) grown and developed further. Ultimately, I’ve found that my nomadic tendencies has built virtual community for me more than detracted from it.
I know my approach to homes in Second Life is far from universal. I’ve got friends who have lived in the same sim during their entire Second Life experience; becoming rooted in place and declaring their property their homestead. Conversely, there are also those opposed to having a virtual home at all. They prefer squatting or popping from place to place without the additional expense of paying tier. So, what about you, dear reader, how have you approached your home in Second Life? Do you stay put or move about? What does have a place you call home mean to you?