Wednesday, January 9, 2008

These are the Days of our Second Lives

Alright, the drama hit the fan yesterday with the Linden ruling that the banks are to close. This set off a flurry of conversations about how to save your money, how to protect your money and how to not trust strangers with your Lindens since, technically, those Lindens are money. One such conversation went something like this:

Buddy: Here's what worries me... those people who have money currently in those accounts... will they get it back? Or do these service shut down and run?
Buddy: This might end up being uglier than Linden Labs anticipates
Me: I was just wondering that -- ~~friends~~ invested a decent amount
Buddy: in RL dollars
Me: Yup. I mean look... "Please read this if you operate, or have transferred L$ to, an in-world “bank” or financial company." Financial company to me means exchange. That's going to mess a lot of things up.
Buddy: It's tempting when you get a 90% plus interest return, but hello people, there is no such thing as a FDIC in Second Life -- no can run with your money and you're screwed
Me: Exactly why I never invested in it.
Buddy: And as I suspected....word is now filtering through that SL banks have started to lock out accounts so people don't withdraw their money all at once, creating a one day collapse of the entire system
Me: Fascinating really.
Buddy: Truth is, Linden Lab is in no position to function as a Securities Exchange Commission, either from a functional standpoint or a legal one
Buddy: Wow....the value of $L has dropped 5 Lindens today...

Don't panic if this is the first you've heard of this - you have until the 22nd to get your money out of your reputable bank. For those of you who invested in one that isn't so nice, I'd get really comfortable with the idea that your "bank account" is now probably set at zero.

What's always interesting to me is all of the other things that come out when major dramas hit. For instance - you're visiting your sister in the hospital with her husband, kids and your parents as she is very ill. All of a sudden you discover her secret life with a lesbian lover of 18 years (which means that all those slumber parties as kids take on a whole new meaning).

Crisis situations bring out the best and worst of us. And this banking crisis revealed to me a lot of interesting currents that never were really there before. It's like when the Loch Ness monster makes an appearance - all of a sudden you have a monster on your hands.

So these noted currents happened to involve the following: corporate scandal, romance, break ups, allegiances, poaching, lies, photographs, and one very lonely
sculptie high heel. The players include one beautiful model, a smart and chic business owner, a very cute consultant, a clever writer, a businessman turned media, a cut-throat venture capitalist (and her ex), a banker turned reporter, me, and a few lawyers... maybe a lot of lawyers (remember when I mentioned monsters earlier?).

To sum it up, one player uses a lot of people to get what they wanted, and also pulls some pretty unethical stunts. Some folks saw through it. Others didn't. Lines in the sand were drawn. And the sculptie heel remained lonely.

What we didn't know was 1. Why, 2. How, and 3, What really happened.

What we now know about the above is 1. To win, 2. wait... Like I'm giving up the details. Pft

What we feel about the above is 1. "How sad," 2. "Who would waste so much time being destructive when they could be creative and constructive" and 3. "...clever, but not THAT clever."

Meanwhile, what I feel about all of this is 1. betrayed, 2. Just desserts for those who lied, 3. Why can't we all just get along? and 4. I'm sadly missing one shoe...

What everyone can learn from this vague story:
1. SL isn't RL - your reasons to trust people are even fewer here than in RL.
2. Check your sources. If someone tells you something they heard someone else say, go to the source and confirm it. When determining truth in it, first consider motivations (and be honest about it), and next, watch actions, not words - they tell you a lot more what people are up to.
3. If you are going to pick on the skinny kid, make sure he doesn't have a black belt in karate.

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