Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Walk in the Neighborhood

I have an affection for a great city.  I feel safe in the neighborhood of man, and enjoy the sweet security of the streets. 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Being back in Second Life (SL) after my enforced vacation from being inworld, got me thinking about what I do in SL.  I flit around, visiting places like Manchu Picchu or 1920’s Berlin, to name but a few.  But, I’ve never really gone for a walk in the neighborhood, Nowaki, where I reside inworld when I’m not traveling around. 

For my readers who may be wondering why I have a home on the grid, I made the decision to do so when I wanted to have some privacy while either working on my appearance or discoursing with other residents. Having roots someplace seemed right.  So, when I came back after being “locked out”, I felt like I had come home after a long time away.  Strange, huh?

Finally, arriving back in my home, I decide to go for a walkabout in Nowaki. Smell the roses, meet the neighbors, that sort of thing. 

So, one recent evening, I open the door of my house and step out into the neighborhood.  The sun shines, I happen to like going about in daylight for these types of constitutionals. Birds are chirping.  Trees and flowers are in bloom. 

Yet, something doesn’t feel right. Things are a little too perfect.  Walking around I see the various houses which are styled in a Japanese fashion.  They are laid out in a random fashion with trees and shrubs scattered about.  The effect is something like Levitt Town meets Disney World.  The Christmas tree left in front of one dwelling only adds to the effect. 

And, it’s more than just the buildings and shrubs.  No leaves are on the ground, I guess I moved into perpetual spring.  There is no litter.  (Again, Disney World comes to mind if not Singapore.)  No wind is blowing. 

Walking along I find myself looking over my shoulder to see if anyone is there.  (OK, I admit I scare easily, another reason for keeping the lights on when I go for these walks.) Nowaki has the feel of a ghost town about it.   

The small things that are seen when walking around a Real Life (RL) town are not in evidence inworld.  People are not walking their dogs.  In fact, there are no pedestrians about at all.  Using the SL mini-map I see there is only one other resident in the Nowaki area.  And, this is where I run into a question of SL etiquette.  (Contrary to popular belief, I struggle with not being an ugly American in SL.  I just have not been very successful yet.) 

How does one arrive unannounced at another resident’s doorstep and ask to meet?  I mean there are no doorbells or door knockers in SL.  An IM feels like the modern equivalent of standing in the street and hollering for Ed Norton or Ralph Kramden upstairs in an episode of The Honeymooners.  Probably that’s why my neighbor is otherwise engaged when I call. 

In earlier blogs, I’ve written about the sense of community in SL.  But, walking around Nowaki, I just don’t feel it.  Yes, there is a small town feel, buildings huddled together separated by small walkways and paths.  Maybe it’s the lack of people, the lack of street signs, or maybe just the lack of a basic service like mail.  (Where’s the Fedex truck?)  Or, perhaps it’s the lack of customization around the homes.  There’s that errant Christmas tree and some residents do have plants and shrubs about but not enough to make a noticeable difference.  There are no roadways ergo there is vehicular traffic. 

I think what’s bothering me is the lack of randomness around me.  Everything is just so orderly, too orderly.  RL’s not like that.  I’d probably go nuts if it were. 

This brings me back to that sense of SL community.  It’s about the people not the buildings or the prims or whatever.  The latter are just icing on the cake.  Maybe SL’s technology serves as a barrier to entry.  First, the difficulty in learning how to build and live inworld and, then, SL’s inability to support more than approximately forty residents in one place at a time. Maybe that’s why Facebook has taken off.  (Don’t worry, I’m not leaving SL anytime soon.) 

Whenever I’m with my friends in SL or with other residents, I have a sense of belonging.  We do what people do what they do when they get together in RL.  Talk, especially about the US Presidential election, joke, swap technical war stories, and generally have a good time.  I mean we wouldn’t be doing it if didn’t enjoy it would we now? 

Wandering around by myself, even if it’s in my own neighborhood, I find that I don’t like being alone inworld.  After several months of being with people on a regular basis, being on my own is tough.  Sometime ago, a resident, Bunky Snowbear, tried to walk across the grid but gave up after several months.  He had several reasons but one of them was the continual solitude of encountering empty places while on the road.  I believe that we are social beings no matter where we are.  SL simply requires us to work harder at being social and allows us to be very much alone if we’re not careful. 

I’m in the process of getting reconnected across the grid.  I’ll also be doing an occasional blog called “Nowaki Notes” where I’ll recount my efforts to try and find the Nowaki community and interact with them. 

Finally, I want to apologize again to those whom I may have appeared to have simply fallen off the grid.  I hope I haven’t caused any inconvenience and I look forward to seeing everyone again very soon!  As always, I’m open to any and all ideas for places to visit and people to meet. 

As always, I’m grateful to all for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives. 
I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

     If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

Photo No. 1: My Home in Nowaki

Photo No. 2: My Neighborhood in Nowaki

Photo No. 3: Stairs to Higher Level

Photo No. 4: Nowaki Pathway

Photo No. 5: One of the Larger Homes

Photo No. 6: Someone Has a Pet

Photo No. 7: The Christmas Tree

Photo No. 8: Some Local Color

Photo No. 9: Water’s Edge

Photo No. 10: Pathway Light


Glorf Bulmer said...

Oddly enough, I make doorbells - I've even sold a set!

But, anyway... am I right in thinking this is a Linden Home, one of the Shareta Osumai types? I've nothing against Linden Homes per se (I have a Wizard's Tower in one of the fantasy areas myself), but the Linden Homes regions are not exactly the height of social activity - probably because the restrictive covenant in those areas means there's nothing much you can *do* with one, besides fill it up with furniture and maybe have friends over for a visit.

Anyone who's spent time wandering in SL will have noticed how many regions are empty most of the time.... People do tend to clump together; the trick, I suppose, is to wander around until you find a decent group to clump *with*. There is an awful lot to see in SL, but the fun stuff - which very much depends on having other people around to have fun with - can be pretty hard to find sometimes.

webspelunker said...


Next time I'm inworld, I'll come by and buy one of your doorbells! (I hope they're easier to install than in RL, I haven't a clue about where to find an electrician in SL.)

You're right - the homes are the Shareta Osumai types. I acquired my home for storage and privacy. (I do aspire to one day having a salon in the classic use of the term. But, that's another story.)

And, the Linden Home regions are social backwaters. Admittedly,quiet ones. You have to go out and find the "clumps". But, I hope you'll agree with me that it's worth the time and trouble.

Thanks for reading!


May O. Mingzi said...

Read this older post ... Well, you found our community in Beau Belle! Please come and visit again soon. And we sell doorbells, too. :-)