Memories old and new of There.com. Personal insights and perspectives about the virtual and physical.
When There.com closed it's door on March 9th 2010 for many it felt like the world was ending. And it was, at least the virtual world they had grown to love and express themselves in. There.com was different, it wasn't like any other online community or game. It was a real home to a group that calls themselves "Thereians" or "Therian's". This online community has a spirit~ a determination to stick together, to be together, and back then a single goal to find a virtual home to replace the one they lost. When There first closed it was chaos, tears and denial. People were displaced very much like people lost after a natural disaster or a devastating war. All they could do was stay together and hope to see their world or another world like There again. It was a natural course for people to gather at places like Thumdar.com which saw rises in activity and other There inspired websites. But the biggest gathering of Thereians and the biggest impact was on Facebook, an online net-working site.
Facebook was flooded with people who had names with There and their former avatar in it. People who hadn't made a facebook account for There made one and began to suddenly add anyone that was from there.com. Other virtual sites saw this as potential. Thousand's of people begging Michael Wilson to re-open there.com in many ways, ranging from gratefulness, anger, threats, and outright desperation to have their virtual home back, looked like a potential market to other virtual worlds. The recruiting began. Personally I was offered monies to "represent" a virtual world. I listened to the CEO of a virtual site ask me if I would write for and represent them as softlydreaming. Another group wanted to buy my "likeness". I was stunned, and so hurt my world was gone, I basically told them the truth. No matter what they offered me it would not be there.com, so no thank you. I mourned There, I cried, I wanted the impossible, for There to be back.
Some Thereian's accepted offers and tried to make a new There for us. I looked at those sites and hoped too. Call me cynical or insightful but I couldn't embrace them. I wanted to be with therians, not just some, but ALL of them and no other world could offer me that. I will say I enjoyed venturing into other worlds and meeting fellow Thereians. I went into second life a total of three times and was shocked at the Therians I met who instantly bonded to me and any other person from There.com that crossed their world. In Second Life Thereians made duda beach, There t-shirts and everything else they could think of to make themselves feel like they were back in the virtual home they missed. Eventually I stopped being nostalgic, stopped crying, stopped pouring over memories and moved on to make my own virtual life. Even so when I met a Thereien in a new game or world there was an instant bond. It was a family, being home feel something no other world could offer.
Why is There.com so different? Was it the safeguards? The fact that you could publicly demand recourse for griefing? The amazing creative ability, the fact the community had its' own voice? The paintball, buggy racing? Or that the cartoon avatar's seemed real as if they were just a part of you? It's hard to understand why There is so different that people are so willing to fight for it, to fight for it's spirit. Ask anyone from There who made another world their home. It's not the same. Whether it's the walking dead like feel with danger around the corner of Second Life or the kiddie feel of Onverse or outrage of world's that promise to be There but never open, nothing is a real substitute for There.com.
Facebook went viral with Thereians constantly staying in touch and sharing every thought memory and feeling that they had of There.com. Dozens of groups such as Thereian Community and Remembering There sprung up. When someone started to hold back or move on they encouraged each other to keep remembering to keep fighting for There. This inspired a great debate, backlash, anger and subversive nature of other virtual worlds. World's that couldn't capture the audience they greedily wanted. They got some of them, but when rumors of There re-opening began jealousy and drama reared it's ugly head.
So yes Thereians will be in other worlds~ they will explore and discover, share their creativity and talent. Other worlds will always want them and try to fight to have them to themselves. But their jealousy and their battle is futile. There is almost fully open, some have gotten a real taste already and Thereians true spirit and heart is still in their real virtual home. There.com is our world, if we are in your world we will be gracious, but just remember we are only visiting. Don't be sad when it's time for us to go home.