I recently blogged about the nature of trust in SL. Closely related to that is the nature of betrayal in SL. Recent events with Kejo Merlin, and other people that have betrayed my trust, have left me disheartened and saddened. Are we doomed in Second Life to live a SLife without trust? Does the virtual and anonymous nature of SL mean that we have to build walls around ourselves, both emotionally and financially, to ensure that we are not the victims of repeated betrayal.
Sadly, I think so. I have now given up hope that Kejo will return to Second Life, or at least i have given up hope that the person behind Kejo will ever return under that name, to set things right and fulfill the commitments that he has made to friends, investors, and customers. Literally hundreds of people are affected by this. Personally, I have lost money – 715k Lindens paid for two islands never delivered, and about the same amount invested in Kejo's company, KJL. More than the money, I have lost a friend. Others are in a similar boat. Kejo's land owners will see there homes and businesses blink out of existence eventually, as the Lindens delete Kejo's islands. Investors that put Lindens into KJL will see their investment go poof.
With each SL betrayal, a piece of my faith in SL is destroyed. I look around me and see greed and avarice, posturing, and always the talk – lots of big talk and plans and promises and dreams – backed by nothing. I see people giving others their hearts and souls, as much as you can in Second Life, only to be abandoned and left alone to wonder what they did to deserve this. I see people continuing to search for that human connection that we all crave, that can be so intense in a closed world like Second Life, only to see the connection broken without reasons, recourse, or even reply.
A lot of people talk about Second Life being a game. I don't agree. But there are a lot of people that play games in Second Life. There are different kinds of investing in SL – the financial kind is simple – the risks are high, the potential rewards are high. The rules are that there are no rules, and so we invest out Lindens with the knowledge that we might make a bundle, and we might lose it all. Although losing Lindens is bad, we all know the risks and potential rewards.
But the investment of SELF is more complicated. People invest of themselves in SL almost without realizing it – either by forging relationships, or by creating or building something. We have all put pieces of ourselves into our SL lives, some more than others. Usually it is something like a betrayal that makes us realize just how deep we have got into it – while things are going well, we continue to invest, creating our own emotional equity in our virtual lives.
After a few such betrayals, we can't help but build the walls. I have tried a number of times to limit my personal investment of SELF in SL, but I keep slipping back into old habits and letting myself simply get too involved. At this point, my Second Life has an alarmingly big impact on my real life – I gain satisfaction and fulfillment from things here, just as I suffer disappointments and trials. Whether SL is a game or not, there are no such things as virtual feelings. At this point, I have spent so much time building a Second Life, and have cared deeply about how I am perceived here and what kind of reputation I am building. For the most part, even now, it is pretty positive – I guess I am proud of what I have accomplished in SL, and the kind of virtual person I have become.
But it's certainly not all positive. And I am certainly not proud of everything I have done. And, I am becoming a bit cynical these days about what I can reasonably expect from people here. I don't expect to make real friends here any more – the whole thing is just too transient, and I am a private person that doesn't want to mix SL and RL – so how real can a friendship be? I don't expect any longer that people will honor promises or commitments – too many people treat it with too much disdain for that to be reasonable.
So when i look at my desktop and cringe when I see the SL icon, or I flinch when an email comes in from an inworld chat, I know that it is time to build the walls higher. Frankly, I have a busy and fulfilling RL, I don't need aggravation from SL. So I have my trowel and bricks out and I am putting another couple of rows on the wall.
Lol. This wasn't a real positive blog! I have held off posting anything the last week or so, because I didn't really have anything nice to say – but i figured that even if it isn't positive, it's what's on my mind. I am not looking for a bunch of comments telling me I am great and everything will be ok. Share your own thoughts and experiences – let me know how you deal with betrayals in SL. I think that would be helpful.