Growing up Habbo: My so-called life in the first social network for teens

But something is awry; the room is bare. “I’ve been hacked,” Sheila explains. Someone has overtaken her account, stolen all of her virtual goods. In response, we flood the room with heart emojis in speech bubbles. A hacked account is as close to a broken heart as we can fathom…

Sheila, I presume, understands this wholly, and for the first time, she sheds her Habbo skin. She admits she has been crying over the loss. She confides in us her fears: “It’s bad enough I have no friends in real life,” she says. “Now, I’m going to be Habbo-poor and lose all of my friends on here.” Our biggest fear in real life is mimicked in the Hotel: Sheila is an outcast.

Then, the magic happens. The room slowly fills up with new furniture—those fountains, while expensive, replaced. Our own money, well spent, is invested back into our friend. Like kindergarteners sharing their favorite toys, we build Sheila back up. “Thank you” is all she can muster. This, we decide, is friendship.

It reminds me of Ready Player One.

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