Home and Away

hotelToday, I’ll wake up in one town, work all day in another, and go to bed in yet another. In fact that’s pretty much going to be the pattern for the next three weeks. It’s going to be a pretty punishing schedule, and even when you’re used to it, you can become pretty disorientated.

It’s reassuring to think that amid the chaos and upheaval, there are ways and means of achieving some sort of normality and the one of logical assumptions is that SL should be an excellent method for doing so. I’ve written in the past about the stability that SL can give to those for whom RL is uncertain or in a state of flux, and how ‘home’ inworld can be more permanent than home in the real world, providing a sanctuary of stability and constancy that life outside the virtual environment may not. However, the more fragmented and disjointed RL becomes, the less easy I find connecting – in every sense – with SL can be.

Take the example of going on holiday, or maybe moving home – these situations are invariably going to be disruptive to your everyday SL activities. You may not have access to the Internet, and if you do, the connection may not be as stable as you’re used to. However, such circumstances last only a finite amount of time, and usually – once you’ve found a solution – things aren’t so bad, because you tend to stay put for the duration of your absence.

Not so when, like me, you find yourself moving from location to location, perhaps several times a day. It’s when you find yourself in this position that you suddenly realise that there are a number of prerequisites that need to be in place if you’re going to have any success with SL at all. There are three obvious considerations, such as having equipment that’s up to the job, and a decent internet connection, but there are a whole host of other points to consider that in any other situation we’re hardly aware of, yet when they’re somewhat outside our control they can contrive to keep us out of the virtual world, despite our best efforts. They are invariably simple obstacles, yet extremely irritating in their effectiveness at denying us access to SL.

Never, for example, underestimate the importance of a comfy chair in which to while away the hours inworld. Whilst this may seem a simple problem to solve, it can be more problematic than you might think. The typical hotel room chair, for example, was never designed to accommodate the seated human form. Their principle purpose in life is to promote discomfort, brilliantly accentuated when combined with a table or desk that was never designed to be used as a work surface. Abnormally high chair arms and an abnormally low chair back effectively rule out resting any device on one’s lap, not that you can bear to sit for long anyway, considering the solid concrete cushion designed to be perfectly out of proportion to any size or shape remotely human in form.

goodnight1_001Why not use the bed? I hear you, quite reasonably suggest. That’s simple – there is no known way to sit, lounge or otherwise adopt any means of repose in or on a hotel bed. They are designed for sleeping, and nothing else. Besides which, if you do manage to find a bed that you can feel fairly comfortable with, it will be in the only spot in the room that has no WiFi coverage and will be located in the one position where it is simply impossible to plug into a power outlet.

Speaking of power outlets, all hotels work to the same rule – always ensure there are at least two sockets fewer than anyone is ever likely to need. Consequently you have to unplug your device every time you want to boil the kettle to make a cuppa, then forget to plug it back in… That is, until your battery goes completely flat! All assuming that your room is equipped with proper plugs in the first place and not cables that disappear mysteriously into oddly shaped plastic boxes embedded in the wall!

Even the most innocuous, yet essential activities can interfere with that seemingly simple task of logging in and spending time inworld. We all have to eat, and generally that’s not a problem; it gets a little more challenging however when to do so means heading out into an unfamiliar town to hunt down somewhere decent to eat, then spending far longer than we would normally would on the simple process of eating. It means that by the time you get back to your room – only to find your battery is flat because you forgot to plug it back in after your last brew up – it’s all just a bit too much. And, if you’re away with colleagues, all that ‘networking’ in the bar tends to lead to much the same result. Actually finding sufficient time to log in can be a real problem.

It seems to me that home comforts and SL go hand in hand. It’s all very well and good having an Internet connection, a decent device to log on with, and all the good will in the world, but there are certain key essentials without which it’s actually pretty difficult to engage successfully with the virtual world with any regularity. You can try, but your mileage may vary.

At the end of the day, it can be quite a relief to head back home, unpack the suitcase, put the kettle on (without any need to unplug anything else), and log in to enjoy some quality time with my SL friends, without the hassle that being away from home can bring.

s. x

Mirrors on the ceiling
The pink champagne on ice
And she said, ‘we are all just prisoners here, of our own device
The Eagles – Hotel California

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