Remember ‘Cheers’? There was always something incredibly appealing about somewhere you can go, where everybody knows your name. I guess most of us need some sort of social life, no matter how socially awkward we may be, and that sort of unpressured, relaxed, friendly and congenial environment is one of the easiest means to that end.
It’s the sort of place where you can happily sit quietly in the company of people that you readily relate to, without any pressure to do anything in particular, contribute to the conversation, or be anything other than yourself. An environment where you’re not expected to ‘perform’ and where you can let down your guard, just a little, and nobody is going to criticise you for doing so.
There are occasional moments in SL where that can spontaneously occur, but to find somewhere inworld where this is the norm is somewhat rarer. In that respect I’ve been very fortunate, finding myself in the happy position of having found such a place right on my virtual doorstep. Better still, the resemblance to the Cheers Bar doesn’t stop at the convivial atmosphere, for this is a proper pub, with beer on tap, a comfy lounge and a jukebox that plays everybody’s favourite tunes.The best thing about my inworld local however is exactly the same as what makes for a great pub in RL: sometimes you’ll drop in after a long day to find a couple of friends chilling out, ensconced with their drinks, just passing the time of day in idle chat. Or maybe there will be a fervent group of gaming devotees, hunched over a table in the corner, willing their dice to fall propitiously. Another time might find the bar full, a party atmosphere and a bunch of people getting into the groove to the music. There’s nothing forced about it, no structure, no scheduled events – people just turn up and do their thing, and nobody really worries about much of consequence at all. And there are occasions – often towards the end of the evening, after a long, hard day – when conversation wanes and those present fall silent, just enjoying the ambience and the company of others, and as a friend recently remarked, it’s pretty cool to be in a situation inworld where no-one feels the need to type or speak, simply to appreciate that sense of being with friends and feeling comfortable in their presence – much as friends in RL might sit quietly around a table for minutes at a time, simply contemplating the moment over a cold beer.
Opinions are aired, debates conducted, problems shared and jokes exchanged – some stay until Last Orders, whilst others pop in, stay awhile, then head off to pastures new. Occasionally a stranger will wander in: “What is this place?”, they ask, bemused – some wander straight back out, others stay for the evening, and some enjoy the company so much that they go on to become regulars themselves.
The beauty of my local virtual pub is that it is so close to home – with a glance at the map, I can see whether it’s a quite night or a crowded bar; better still, I don’t need to bother with all that new-fangled teleporting and flying stuff because the pub is just a short walk from my home parcel, and there’s something remarkably ‘normal’ about taking a stroll in the evening, down to the harbour to meet up with friends for a ‘drink’.
However, I am faced with something of a dilemma – having extolled the virtues of my local watering hole, I’m now in two minds about whether I should invite you along… I’ve seen far too many cosy, friendly pubs in RL become commercial, corporate, characterless places full of people out to drink too much and without a care for the more traditional appeal a pub should have. I’d hate my local to become a stopping-off point for residents who have no interest in enjoying the local ambience and friendship that can be found there.
So, rather than give you a landmark, I’ll simply say, look me up inworld sometime – and if you’ve an hour or two to kill and fancy somewhere with a great welcome and relaxed atmosphere, you can drop in for a drink and some pleasant, old-fashioned company.
You wanna go where people know,
people are all the same.
You wanna go where everybody knows your name.
Gary Portnoy – Where Everybody Knows Your Name