Monday, November 27, 2023

Letter To The Editor, And Response: The Borrower

 Dear Newser

I've been in Second Life for a while, and know a number of people. Some are cool, some not so cool. Among the not so cool is this one guy who's always hitting me up for money. Sometimes it's for Lindens to rent out a place. Sometimes it's for real money for real life, saying he needs a new pair of pants or a new music player. He eventually got himself banned from one club I hang out at for pestering people with his "Can you give me some money?" But instead of getting the hint, he keeps it up.

Just what is up with this guy? Why won't he stop? And is he really as hard-up as he says, or is he lying?

Annoyed and Irritated

Dear Annoyed,

To start off with, some people really are short on money. In real-life, my late Father once had a co-worker named Tate. Tate was a hard enough worker. But he had a problem. After he got his once a month paycheck, after paying his bills he would spend all his money on things like a new hunting rifle, a new fish-finder, etc. And by the time the fourth week came around, he was so short on cash he was quite literally picking up roadkill to cook, which got him the nickname "Buzzard." He once asked my Dad how he managed to save money, and Dad tried to tell him. But Tate never did. "Buzzard" Tate would end his days a poor man with little in his bank account.

Why don't he and others save their money to avoid trouble down the road? Some feel these people just aren't very smart, at least when it comes to money. Others wonder if life hands them problem after problem that doesn't allow them to build up their savings, they conclude that once they get some money they might as well enjoy it then and there before something comes along to take it away.

Unfortunately, there was one such person I came across in Second Life. And while Tate prided himself on being self-sufficient, this person was not.

This person, who I'll call Frank, was someone I ran into through some friends of mine who told me he had been the one-time owner of a sim before he had to turn it over to others due to financial difficulty. We had known one another for a while, and one day he told me he needed a few bucks for cab fare so he could make a trip he needed to otherwise he'd be in trouble. I was in a generous mood, so gave him the few dollars. Well, he was someone on my Facebook list at the time, and I soon saw a picture of him showing off a new clock! Infuriated, I told him I didn't appreciate being lied to, and defriended and blocked him.

It would be some time before I ran into Frank again. I had decided enough time had passed, so unblocked him as a courtesy. He had told me he had come across some more money at the time, so was able to make the trip and get the clock. He seemed like a decent enough guy at the time, and he would end up meeting up with another friend of mine who was in therapy for emotional problems and since he seemed to be helping her out my impression of him improved. But not all of my friends liked him. One considered him a thief, telling me he was once arrested for shoplifting. When I would later question Frank about that, his response was it was true but he had ran out of prescribed meds for mental illness.

Time went on, and Frank was soon asking me for money again. The first time it was a large amount of cash to get an item of his out of the pawn shop. I told him I couldn't afford to pay that much but eventually gave him a few dollars. Eventually I heard he was asking/bugging other people for cash. He got in trouble at clubs for doing so, warned not to do it again and banned when he did so anyway. He was also asking me for money for other things, and I began having less and less patience with him.

Then my friend with emotional problems contacted me, frustrated. She told me she had given Frank over two hundred dollars with his promise he would pay it back in a few days, but he didn't. Infuriated that he had taken advantage of a woman's troubled condition, I kept at him to get him to repay her the money. He was upset at me for doing so, saying he would soon pay the money he "borrowed." Others found out and were doing the same. Finally one day he angrily told me he was sending her the money, leaving me with a bitter message accusing me of being unfair and selfish. My friend would confirm the story. But I would never see this account of Frank's again. Either he had deleted it soon after, or someone's AR report had gotten him banned from SL.

Since then, I've heard of a few other stories. One was of one generous soul who ended up giving one friend hundreds of dollars before real-life financial difficulties forced him to stop, and the "friend" continued to beg despite being told hard times had befallen the giver. I'd also heard about someone else who when times were good would spend his money on fancy things like computer equipment, but when times were bad he had little savings and would beg friends for cash so he wouldn't have to pawn his toys for a fraction of what he paid for. And when times were good again, instead of saving for another rainy day, he went back to spending this money on fancy toys. He was caught in a vicious cycle that ensured he'd continue be short on money much of his life.

How should one handle a borrower? If you don't know them and you don't have a lot of Lindens, the answer is pretty obvious. If you've come to know them for a while and you think they're being sincere, it gets trickier. You may need to tell them that you will give them one good-sized amount of Lindens, to keep as long as they need it, but there will be no more until they pay it all back. How you handle it is up to you, and will likely depend on how much money you have to spend in real life. If you're making a lot of money in real life with few expenses, you can afford to be a little more generous. But if you're looking for work, and/or have a wife and kids to worry about, then you're not going to have much to spare. And if they keep asking you for cash again and again, there may come a day in which you need to block them to keep your peace of mind, as well as those around you who may notice something is bothering you.

And for any borrowers reading this, I ask you to take a long hard look at your situation. Yes, life sucks and we need to treat ourselves once in a while. But we need to do what we can to prepare for inevitable rainy days ahead, which will come. And our friends who seem better off may not seem as prosperous as they appear, and even if they are will not be happy to be repeatedly asked for cash to help you out, especially if they think you've done little to prepare for trouble. Continuing to ask those around you to support you is a sure way to end up with few friends, perhaps none at all.

And if you're a scammer, someone whose attitude is "A fool and his money are soon parted, and I'm going to fleece those sentimental fools for all they're worth," then I hope one day karma catches up to you, with interest, at loan shark rates.

Just my two Lindens on the issue. Have a great Second Life.

Bixyl Shuftan