The Social Credit Card Account

I am still firmly in autocrat mode here. Even though Sapphire is finished, the books aren’t closed yet, and now I am hip deep in getting ready for Warfighter, and also spending brain power on thinking out an event for September, whatever form it takes on. As an autocrat, I function on a theory I have developed over the years of autocratting and staffing SCA events. I call it the theory of a Social Credit Card. It actually can apply to life in general, but the SCA provides a powerful microcosm to play this theory out in very fast and real time.

In general, if you are playing nicely with others, serving the Society, contributing to your group and your kingdom, you are building credit on your “social credit card.” You might make occasional minor withdrawals on that card when you mess up, do something like file an officer’s report late, leave trash for others to clean up at an event, or drive where you shouldn’t and mess up the ground or worse, get stuck in the mud at an event. Those are just some examples of minor things that happen to pretty much everyone, and your Social Credit Card takes a little hit, but if you don’t screw up too frequently, you should still be flush.

The fastest way to drain your Social Credit Card account without doing something that gets you banned from the group permanently is to autocrat an event. The primary job of the autocrat is to find people who can work with you and with each other to make all the moving parts of an event move together in something resembling harmony. This means you have to have to ask people to work for you, and the bigger and more complex the event, the more people need and the more work you have to hand them. The great thing is that people generally want to work and will help you if you ask (remember, they are building their Social Credit Card accounts up), but every time you ask, you make a debit on your account. And every time you ask someone to do something else after they finish the task they have already done for you, the debit gets a little bigger. And every time you ask someone to do something really hard or something you know they really don’t want to do, the debits start getting pretty big.

By the end of Sapphire, there were people who probably wanted to run the other way every time they saw me coming in their direction with the look on my face of “I hate to ask this, but…” My SCA Social Credit Card was near or maybe even over the limit by noon, last Monday.

I am not trying to suggest that you shouldn’t “spend” anything in your Social Credit Account. I mean the opposite actually. The SCA really only exists through events, through real live, personal interactions with one another; not through online chats and Facebook. So, I believe that to have the SCA, you have to have events, and that means someone, somewhere, has to spend their Social Cred to make it happen. Like real money, you can hoard as much as you can get your hands on, but if you never spend it, it doesn’t really do anything for you. What I am saying you should treat the goodwill of others as a resource as valuable as money. You need the goodwill of others around you to thrive in the SCA. I cannot stress this enough. No one in the SCA operates in a social vacuum, not even our most severe introverts.

This theory doesn’t just apply to autocrats. It applies to Royalty, who must ask a lot of favors of a lot of people, but they have more ability to soften the blow to their Social Credit. It definitely applies to Landed Baronage who must also ask a lot of a lot of people, and have a similar ability to soften the impact on their credit, but the timeframe is a lot longer for them than for the Crowns. You must tread very carefully as a Landed Baron when it comes to your Social Credit Card. It applies to group officers too, particularly to Seneschals, who have to ask people to do things all the time, but have little or no way to rebuild their Social Credit until their term is over.

Like I said, I think of the Social Credit Card as a general life theory and one that I think we all abide by on a relatively unconscious level, but it is something I have become keenly aware of over the years. And if you ever wondered what I was thinking about on all those mornings I was awake at 0400 or thereabouts, this is exactly the kind of stuff I think about, and it is the kind of thing I hope future autocrats will think about too.


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