Monday, December 17, 2007

The Nature of Betrayal in Second Life

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.



casper trebuchet said...

Betrayal? Is the RL really better? I understand the drive of our society to find security and prove, suck on testimonials that we live in an ordered and civilized world. Marriage is an example, contracts another, insurances a further. And we master this world as we think, do we really? How sustainable is such a world? How fast can things change or a society collapse, a religion or love vanish, somebody get sick or even die and a species extinct..Should we speak about over population, climatic change, technological revolution … If you are on the lucky side you may think that the big lord will handle the situation..if less fatalistic then either you are a technology freak and dream already of 4D-Web..or get cyber abstinent in the back woods..but even there you may have an internet connection today and even may earn slander and libel …lol. .a middle way also exist.

Betrayal? I’m not an anarchist or a kind of libertarian but I simply see SL as a world without rules which is in fact a challenging experience. Questions may arise. Does it makes sense to give trust and if, is it possible to make friendship, how can we maintain partnerships, how do we have to construct fructose networks, how to survive in this cyber world – I should try to give courses in evolution theory..- may be not, there are people who understand that better than me. SL is definitively a kind of evolution game and modern discovery of a new world. A bit like Sir Morgan Stanley explored the Kongo 150 years ago or a Lewis and Clark the NorthW-passage. And then you have LL which plays mother nature for non-believers and big lord for the more religious among us. The latter point is especially challenging. How can religion or philosophy be brought into SL. Not surprisingly there is not a lot of information to be found about these latter least as I know.

Betrayal? I don’t think that this is the main question. We are standing in front of something which is difficult to measure. SL is an unknown medium with unknown potential, unpredictable ruling, unknown organism and unknown future…but its challenging and basically I believe that also betrayal exists matters will finally find to a balance. It is not needed to construct brick walls but to keep a certain skeptical distance and then things should work fine. But don’t get emotionally too connected to it or even start to develop expectations. This probably won’t work I suppose but please understand that I see this in a more positive way.

So let’s see SL as great chance to learn about ourselves and society. Betrayal? ..This is something for losers as in evolution such strategies normally fail…

In relation to Kejo. I heard that he is sick and surely (he told me two months ago) is working on an own cyber platform. What happens if he just vanished and even without thinking too far about the consequences (I got the impression that he is a serious guy). This is surely not an excuse for him just a constellation. But I would contact WSE, I guess they tried to track him in RL as we could learn in one of the last announcements. May be they have more information.

Pablo Sienkiewicz said...

There is an story, that my dad told me when i was little, about...15-16 years ago, don't quiet remember.

It was winter, one of the coldest winters in Spain, as everyone recalls... the dictator just died like 2 weeks ago (so about 33 years for all of you not Spaniards) and the people decided to do a public protest (demonstration) against the fascist regime. It started at 10 a.m. since it was so cold they wanted to get it out during the day, so all this people went to the street, hundreds of thousands, protesting, it was unprecedented here. Anyway, at about 6 PM people started to go home, at about 7 there were only a few, and at 9, there was this one guy...just one...marching in the middle of the some point, a cop aproach him and ask, excuse me sir, do you really think you are going to change anything like this? on your own? you really think the government is going to change? The guy replied, oh, i don't want to change the goverment, or anything, for that matter, I just don't want to be changed myself!

I guess what I'm trying to say is that you are the way you are, and I think it sucks you change for the worst just cause is rough all around.

Maybe it will help you what i did.
I found one person i could trust, and I stuck with her, i like to think that out there there's at least one person i can trust, maybe someday she betrayers me, but i like to think that a star has fallen...and that maybe, just maybe, shes's my angel.



sevenseals said...

why doesn't anybody know that only fair-mindedness will lead to go with a bang? anybody who screws someone will never be really successful, maybe short time but not strongly, thats a natural law.

suggested literature: Rich Dad, Poor Dad (Robert T. Kiyosaki)

Anonymous said...

Trust and hope is the food of life, thats the way i see it. When you loose those things life gets worthless. So dont loose it:). Only sadly enough there are people out there who betray you and use your trust, believe and hope to their own benefit. And that hurts, RL and SL.

But also think it over. Do you want to close your heart for every one so you dont get hurt anymore? Do you want to live a life of keeping all people at a distance, so they dont have to much influance at your life and feelings. If we all do the world will be even more cold and hard than it already is.

So hun come over to this side by the people who love you. And dont be afraid to get hurt sometimes. Because on this side are also the people who protect you and help you on your feeds again when you get hurt.

luv Barny

Delicious Demar said...

Casper, Pablo, sevenseals, Barny...

thanks so much for the thought-provoking and positive comments. I suppose that you are all right, that in SL, we have to keep our expectations in check, and that we have to live our SLives with some faith and trust, or else it would just be too awful to contemplate. I have certainly asked people to put their trust in me - in my personal relationships, and business ones.

But to answer your question, Barny:
"Do you want to close your heart for every one so you dont get hurt anymore? Do you want to live a life of keeping all people at a distance, so they dont have to much influence at your life and feelings."

I think that the unfortunate answer to this is, yes - that is exactly what I want right now. I have tried the other way, again and again, and it always ends the same way.

Nobody needs to worry that I am going to be a runner - I am in SL for the long haul, and even if I ever did decide to leave, or to get out of any of the businesses I run, I would only do it in such a way that anyone that has invested in DDE gets fair value for their investment. I will NEVER take other people's money and run with it. Nor will I liquidate and pay people 50 cents on the dollar for their investment.

I am truly grateful for the chance that my investors have given me, to expand at a pace far beyond what would be possible without them. I don't consider the land i have to be "mine" - i believe that I hold it in trust for all of us that own DDE shares. I don't believe that the profits that DDE makes are "mine", and that is why I have always given generous dividends, and reinvested every other penny that I can in the business.

But, I heard Kejo say the same things. And i KNOW that he meant them when he said them. In any dealings I ever had with Kejo, he was more than fair and always came through. But, apparently, that changed - and the point of my blog was that we can't use RL behaviour to judge SL behaviour - as Casper said - the rules in SL are unknown and maybe unknowable.

Kejo and I were friends. We spent many hours talking through the ethics of decisions that we made in SL, and we spent a lot of time consulting each other on a wide range of issues, both personal and business. The latest info i have is that Kejo is fine, and at home. I don't know what his plans are - I still hold out some hope that he will return and make things right. I am a hopeful person. But at this point, I am not EXPECTING it any longer.

I totally believe that whatever Kejo does, he does because he is caught in a situation that he cannot see a way out of - not because he purposefully sought to defraud people out of their money. I know him well enough to know he would not do that. But it could be that he just cannot face a failure of his business, and so just chooses not to deal with it. Or, it could be that he is hard at work with the Lindens trying to get everything back on track. there is no way to know. Only time will tell.

What I do know is that I have gone out of my way to support people in Second Life, both financially and emotionally, and it has not gone well. So, you tell me - doesn't that justify pulling back and protecting myself more?


sevenseals said...

Thats why I'd like to say: run your business, dont invest in other companies, dont be reliant on someone else, dont realize big growth for the company at the moment because its also a risk. pay yourself and investors with dividends and increase your shares.

Delicious Demar said...

That's exactly what i have been thinking sevenseals.


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