A house is not a home

In the tall grass garden on the roof of my home
In the tall grass garden on the roof of my home in Second Life

Mera Kranfel’s recent post on what makes a virtual home a home reminded me of that Burt Bacharach song “A house is not a home”. Have you heard it? The first verse goes like this:

A chair is still a chair
Even when there’s no one sittin’ there
But a chair is not a house
And a house is not a home
When there’s no one there to hold you tight
And no one there you can kiss goodnight

I’m not sure if I completely agree. But the lyrics do speak to the sentiment of emotional connection – as in, ‘one’s home is where the heart is’. Again, I’m not sure I agree with that phrase either.

To me, the emotionality around a home is about safety and permission. When I feel safe, a house is a home. When I feel I can do what I want in it, a house is a home.

I suppose it wouldn’t matter what you chose to shelter yourself. Many people choose castles in the air, some opt for modern luxury mansions; others build rustic little cabins, spaceships, or even blank flat pixel platforms. As long as you feel safe and feel permission to do what you want – then it can be your home.

Yeah, safety and permission: If I want to strip down to nothing and sit in the grass in my roof garden; feeling that I safely can – that’s what home means to me.

Wherever I am on the grid at the end of the evening, I will go home before I log out. I’ll land on my porch, walk into my bedroom, and lay myself on my bed before I click “Quit”.

For me, there is definitely a feeling of safety when I get home – and the feeling is no different than when I might get inside after a night out in the city. I can now finally relax, comfortable in my surroundings. I control everything about my environment (and can cease to constantly redesign environments that I haven’t personally designed).

One of the things I found most challenging with InWorldz, when I visited, was that I didn’t really know where to go when it was time to log out. I felt like a homeless person, finding a corner of the shoe store I was in, under the cover of old shoe boxes for warmth and protection. So, again, bizarrely, I logged back into Second Life, chilled out for a bit, and then went to bed the usual way I always do.

Likewise, when I relog, that’s where I find myself, awakening in my bed as it where, not quite ready to take on the world, but in a safe place where I can clear my mind, and properly transition to where I am and what I want to do.

It’s funny habit, and I wonder if other people do it too?

11 thoughts on “A house is not a home

  1. I do i do i do!! I dont have a bed but I almost always TP to my home before log out 🙂 You described it wonderfully and hit the nail. I feel the same. And i will invite you and Harvey to my group so you can set home at my place inWorldz. Cosy campfire and a little cabin. dinner is always ready 🙂 No bed, sorry to say, but a sofa/coach :):) Hugggsss!


  2. Having spent far too much of my life in hotel rooms and on airplanes I’ve come to agree with you. I’d frequently catch myself with colleagues or customers saying “I’m going home” when what I meant was “I’m going to the hotel room.”. Home was wherever the meagre daily possessions of my life were (those that fit into a carry-on suitcase).

    My home in SL became far more important perhaps, because of it, but like you Becky, just logging out in the middle of somewhere without going “home” is a strange thought. More strange is the idea of waking up in an odd place however – I think the idea of logging in with people milling about me on the border of scary!


    1. Yeah, you no doubt spent more time near your SL home than you did your RL home at that time. I can imagine in that scenario, my home would be become even more important than it is now. I think another interesting area to consider is the kind of homes people make for themselves. Clearly in your case, the cabin at the time was set in an environment quite evocative of your RL home, so I can see the anchoring there. In my case, I’ve set up smaller version of the kind of dream homes I would sometimes visit in West Vancouver. Funny how, again, our choices demonstrate our needs at the time.


  3. For all my years in SL, the only times I really had a house as a home were back in 2006 and 2009. In 2006, I was on my first account and rented a nice (for that time) house on a beach resort owned by a really nice lady who has sadly left SL some years ago. Fast forward to 2009 and I was again on a beach sim; my home then was a tiki hut.

    Nowadays… My home is a futuristic skybox that was gifted to me by Inara Pey (gorgeous design). But even this is only necessary, as I’m hard at work building and rebuilding on my sim. I’ll agree with you: we really don’t need much to consider a place our “home”. Just a place where we can feel safe and comfortable.

    On another note: I love the theme you’ve chosen for your blog. Great work!


    1. How interesting that you say your first home was on a beach, as it was the same for me. At the time, that was my “ideal”, living on a tropical beach surrounded by palm trees, hammocks and birdsong. It was a Balinese-style long house from BA, complete with outdoor pool and barbecue, and I just loved it! If I had to guess, and it may be because the private island setting naturally caters to it, that beach environment is likely the most popular type of SL home, at least when we’re new to the idea of virtual home ownership. Since then I’ve lived in forests, on top of high mountains, and now back to beach – although no longer tropical, more… eastern US style. Anyway, thanks for your kind words on the theme. It’s a Writr theme that I customised the fonts and backgrounds for – glad you like it!


  4. I entered SL near the end of 2006 and by the middle of 2007 I found myself and my partner not only TPing home at the end of the day, but also hopping into bed to sleep 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 when you woke and seeing yourself still sleeping in-world was very comforting.

    Unfortunately, that wasn’t particularly realistic. 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 oversized freenis. Eventually it was more trouble than positive so we both stopped doing that. However, I have never lost the warm fuzzies you get when you log in and see a last-logoff pic of a nice goodbye.

    I went to InWorldz because SL had become to expensive to remain creative there. Every single upload cost L$. Every prim counted. 45,000 prims at one quarter the cost and never any upload fees attracted me. 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 disable public access if I wanted and never suffer the 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.

    I still had a Premium account in SL and 512 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 you do now, but 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 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. 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, etc. There are a lot of good people there. So I have found even more than a Home.

    I definitely agree with what I think your article says or implies: a home is more than just a Home, and a Home can be a real home.

    Thanks to Mera for starting this train of thought. 😉


    1. Ahhh yes… the late, late nights, the lost weekends, slipping under the virtual covers, sharing breakfast and having those typical breakfast type-chats (they are distinct aren’t they!?)…

      Yeah… I’m no stranger to that scenario, and you’re right, comforting is a good word for it. But don’t worry about the non-responsiveness Jim, that’s what auto-responders are for! But then, maybe you didn’t have that fancy TPV tech way back then when the world was painted black and white 😉

      And oh my, the idea of some random cuddling up next to me as I awaken is enough to make my virtual skin crawl! I leave my home open to anyone who’d like to visit: have a seat, flip through my magazines, even help yourself to some left-over Chinese, but crawl into my bed?? Now that is the height of intrusion, which is one reason my bed is set to owner-only.

      I hear you about InWorldz, and the notion of 45,000 prims is no small attractant. Even now, with 3000 prims left on our full region, Harvey and I are having to make some tough choices for our next production, because we want to keep our current one going, but it’s just going to be sooooo tight!

      Of course, my home and everything in it only requires about 300 prims (thanks to the Gods that gave us mesh), but one thing I really want to resuscitate is my marine park, which will be another 1000 at least… /me sighs… decisions, decisions. You’re right, the more of these limits we encounter, the more likely we’ll be looking further afield.

      Thanks for stopping by!


      1. Auto-responders… there were no TPVs then, and even teleports were a new thing! 😉 The nice the about alternative worlds is that you can mix and match. Take advantage of InWorldz where that makes sense (land cost, privacy, prims, people) and still leverage your investment in SL or other grids (e.g. inventories, place, people). You don’t really have to choose one or the other, any more than saying you have to stay in one region in SL. Other grids are really just other regions, with different management. 😉


  5. i’m exactly the same – no matter what i’ve been up to inworld, i’ll invariably TP home, take a slow wander around the garden to unwind and then tuck myself into bed. When i first became aware of my little habit, i thought it was probably a weird thing to do… it’s reassuring to know that i’m not the only one who feels the need to connect to ‘home’ before returning to reality.

    Thoroughly enjoying your latest batch of writing!

    s. x


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s