Monday, October 5, 2009

Running on Empty



The virtual world - is it real or not real? I know it's not a part of the earthly plane, I know you can't hold the virtual world in your hand, but I think it is real, depending on how you define that word.

Someone told me recently that you can buy virtual weapons used in internet games, on Ebay. It's true! Apparently if you're good at these games, you can win weapons that can subsequently be traded or sold. But on Ebay?? Wow. The person who told me this said, "Yes on Ebay - for REAL money."

But what IS real money? The paper and coins we trade back and forth aren't worth anything, except as symbols of wealth. They used to represent actual gold or silver stored away - maybe at Fort Knox? - but that ended long ago.

In recent years money has moved even further into the realm of the abstract. Now it's often represented by a number on a computer screen at the bank, accessible by using a number embedded in a magnetic strip on a bank card. When people speak of "identity theft," they're talking about numerical theft, actually.

Someone figured out how to access my bank card number last week, emptied my bank accounts so fast it's kind of amazing. My bank is pretty good about these things; they stopped the looting as soon as they could, and may even be able, at some point, to return some of my money to me.

I've had a few days to freak out about this; I'm feeling more resolute about it this morning, thinking how funny it is that I have nothing in the way of numerical wealth, especially in the wake of the trips I took last summer, journeys that took a heavy toll on my savings account. They stole all I had, but it wasn't much. I wonder if they were disappointed?

The truth is, my wealth can't be stolen by way of a bank card number because I am rich in family, friends, time, ideas, and health.

Kind of ironic, really. They could take my money, but they didn't touch my wealth, nor did they take my identity. In a way this situation is kind of liberating. Don't ask me to explain what I mean by that, I'm not sure myself. It's kind of weird.

As for the people who stole my numerical identity, I offer the only curse I ever dare put out into the world, a curse that can be a blessing, depending on the behavior of the people involved: May all you do return to you three times. Oh yeah.

29 comments:

John Hayes said...

So sorry to learn about that--I've had a couple of things like that happen with a credit card--it can be quite upsetting, even when things are "made right."

Historian Fernand Braudel said that "money is the metaphor that conquered the world."

Oh, & a great curse!

glnroz said...

I hate that this happened. I am amazed at how you accepted this. I am old fashioned about the "virtual" world. I use, but am very wary. I am thinnking you will have a good day. thnx

Chris Wolf said...

Stars in heaven, Reya, what a ferocious attack on your spirit. Stay safe, please.

Rebecca Clayton said...

Holy mackerel! I'm freaking out just thinking about this happening to you. I hope this doesn't cause any long-term trouble. It sounds like you've done all the right things to stop the virtual bleeding....

Back when I lived in Arlington, some guys knocked me down, kicked me in the head, and took my purse. It was a creepy experience, but I learned some important things from it.

To my never-ending amazement, it made me so angry I jumped up and chased them for blocks, screaming at them. Who knew I had that in me? I'm not timid anymore.

I'm pretty sure you'll continue to process this trouble into something positive--you're amazing that way!

lacochran said...

In the same spirit, my late cousin would say "Whatever you wish me, I wish you double!" :)

willow said...

OMG, Reya! How horrid!! I'm in awe of your good attitude about it all, dear friend.

cs said...

I am so sorry that happened to you. I had a less traumatic episode of identity theft last year that involved a credit card and fortunately no approved charges.

As for the virtual v. the real, check out Baudrillard's book Impossible Exchange.

MARGARET GOSDEN 2 said...

Wow, two new fantastic photos AND the bad news of your numerical loss. I don't know if you know, but last week I was the victim of an email scam. I had to start a new blog site and contact everyone as best I could without my up-to-date contact list. Yes, I. too, have been steaming about this in my blog. Sounds like you and I were hijacked about the same time. When a certain vice-president some years ago was the butt of jokes about locked boxes, I sympathize, but I still keep some faith in intricate security systems devised to shut the perps out. I agree with your spirited approach but keep in mind that artists have brains, too!

JC said...

I'm so so sorry.

Joanne said...

Oh it's a fine line we walk between virtual and reality. And sometimes even reality seems unreal, like the terrible experience you went through. I'm so sorry to hear this. Would the bank be held accountable in any way, even that your account was insured, and thus protected?

The Bug said...

I worry sometimes about having our bank accounts cleaned out (the thief would be disappointed in us too!) - we do a LOT of internet shopping. So sorry it had to happen to you!

Tom said...

this is going on a lot lately...crooks are an interesting lot...they work so hard at stealing, when they could just work hard...dumb sh**s.

You got a good attitude, far out.

Linda Sue said...

Your photos are (sigh) gorgeous...somebody tried to charge 1800.00 on our credit card in ITALY! Payment was stopped imediately but left us without a card for about four weeks- do-able...I agree with your curse or not curse- you will get back threefold your stellar attitude and the generosity of spirit that you put out there- so be it...

ellen abbott said...

Sorry that happened. I know what you mean about taking your money but not your wealth. They wouldn't get much from us either. But, I don't use those bank cards, still write checks and I rarely shop on-line and when I do, I find out the amount and send them a check unless it's something like plane tickets. Takes longer but I can wait.

And what a wonderful 'blessing'.

ewix said...

Poor Reya
what a major pain in the ass.
I agree it's only money which has little real value
but even so you have to rush about trying to rectify things and that steals your time and your peace of mind.
Deary me.
Luckily most banks are pretty savvy about stopping the bleeding, but I'm s very sorry.
And your second photos was worth about ten zillion dollars it is so stunning...
much love

Steve said...

Holy shit, Reya, that's terrible! I hope you get your money back! I must say, your attitude about it is impressive -- I would be FREAKING out.

Do you have any idea how they accessed your number?

madtexter said...

Oh YEAH!! They're gonna get their comeuppance! Still, it would leave me feeling violated, and wondering if it really is the end of it. Here's sending you kind thoughts, and protection from all that is evil.

-M

Reya Mellicker said...

I have no idea how they got the number. I know it's just a thing that happens a lot now.

I do shop on the internet a lot, but I'll now start using my credit card because I can refuse payment.

My bank is seriously stable and great and it's likely some or all of the money will someday return, so that's cool.

Please understand: I learned about this a week ago, but only today was able to write about it. I was TOTALLY freaked out. As a philosopher I had to figure out a way to think about this that wouldn't drive me nuts.

Rebecca, I completely imagine you running after the muggers! So sorry that happened to you!! But you, timid? I don't think so!

robin said...

Ouch! Muggings, car break-ins, credit-card or bank fraud, everyone is a serious violation. My sympathies. Yes, when I'm furious I ask for justice also.

steven said...

hey reya - you're so strong at times and in ways that i would find challenging. i own nothing - well legally i do - but in the real world i own nothing. so if someone needs something badly or if i think i have something that more properly belongs with another person then it goes to them. taking without permission is wrong because it's hurtful and so there's a burden that goes with that wrongful taking. which is part of the consequence of what this/these bad people will unfortunately experience. i wish you peace and security in that area of your life. steven

Pam said...

So sorry to hear this Reya. What a contrast in character between you, and those who did you wrong.Something will happen to them no doubt, and you shine beautifully in this, shock aside.I can only imagine what the past couple of days have been like for you.You have great strength of character. I so hope the bank manages to get all your money back.Sending positive thoughts. xx

Liza said...

I am really sorry about your money woes but you are right about your true wealth Reya.
"May all you do return to you three times" Oh yeah indeed!

Barbara Martin said...

Reya, I feel for you as I had a similar incident happen to me early last year with two debits taken from my bank card. I was told the next day by the bank, got a new card and my money back right away. My bank is great on going after commercial robbers with their fraud division. Now I tend to purchase items with a bit of cash before I consider using the bank card again as it's so easy for a clerk to tinker with an electronic swipe. It's a real shock when this occurs. Well, the robber(s) will have mucked up their karma now. The divine has a way of keeping score.

Nancy said...

I'm so sorry this happened to you, Reya. Our daughter had her identity stolen a few years ago and they had checks printed and on the street within hours. I agree with your curse. I truly hope these people get the opportunity to reap what they sew.

karen said...

Sorry to hear about the invasion into your virtual world.. I do love the idea of a blessing/curse, it makes perfect sense.

Loved yesterday's medieval jewish angels, and the beautiful photos and excerpts from the Cosmology of Reya!!

Mrsupole said...

May the Angels of Reya watch over you and protect your true wealth.

So sorry that this happened to you and to others, me included. And I join in with your blessings and curse to those that do this. This is why I shred and shred and shred.....every paper that leaves my house. I even have alias's on my credit reports. These thieves know what they are doing and it is so hard on us all. They cost ALL of us when they do this. We, as a group, are the ones who pay to make things right by paying more in bank fees or higher interest rates, basically the same way that we pay for what shoplifters steal by paying more for things the store sells. So I can only tell everyone to start shredding everything. I like to think that this makes it a little harder for them to get my info again.

But now I am hoping the curse gets them.

God bless

Pauline said...

Having something you might willingly have given to someone in need taken from you without your offering it is a violation of trust. I found it interesting that the following message should come to me in an email today (before reading your post) so I am sharing it with you. I know how scary it can be to have insufficient funds.

" '...there's more where that came from.'

This is a key teaching; a most important message. The goodness of the Universe is not limited. When something"looks as if" it is running out, do not fret. This, or something better, is on its way. Sufficiency is the natural order of things. Good never runs out -- although it may change form."

Reya Mellicker said...

Thanks to all!

See? I am so rich!! In blog friends and family.

Melissa said...

I am sorry this happened to you. I really hope you get everything back. You have amazing spirit.

Good point about the virtual world. I myself am trying to come to terms with it myself.