The Reality of Reality

One can’t sit back this weekend without feeling a little overwhelmed with what took place in Boston. Being a person whom both worked and lived around Boston, I like many watched intently as everything unfolded.

To see streets you know intimately shown across the television while explosions are going off. Then to view one of the busiest cities traffic wise shut down resembling as one reporter put it “The streets of Chernobyl.” You just can’t help but shake your head in bewilderment.

As I was watching the drama unfold during the capture I was taken aback when the local reporters cut in to air “an eyewitness account” of what was transpiring. (at this time gunshots were fired and more) On the phone was a woman giving details about how she was walking her dog “in and around” the area. As if she had something she saw, or knew.

It became abundantly clear as she spoke she wasn’t privy to anything that both you or I were watching on television. She lived blocks away, was still blocks away, and witnessed nothing except the movement of law enforcement to the area.

She then related to reporters for as many times as she walked her dog down the very same street where the suspect was held up. “She never noticed a boat.” Fair enough…“So what in world are you doing calling television stations?!”

I could hear the frustration in the reporters tone as he was trying to elicit anything of value. There was none. Yet, there she was. One couldn’t help but wonder if she also calls 911 to report any outages of Chicken Nuggets®.

This is the reality today. With all the technological innovations and the strides we’ve made to gather information. Information that can be at times far more in-depth (or raw) than most media outlets would dream of printing or showing. We’ve also created a megaphone only surpassed in size by the sheer number of self-absorbed individuals enamored in their stupidity striding and lining up as to take their turn to shout into it. (other than that, I have no strong feelings)

The trouble with this new world or “reality” we live in is far too many think because they can reference a myriad of news sites, twitter accounts, Facebook® postings et al. They’re somehow either intimately involved in what is taking place or now some form of “expert.” All the while, all of us grown-ups know – they haven’t a clue.

Some may think I’m only speaking of incidents such as the tragedy that took place at the Boston Marathon. I’m not. This happens just as often and sometimes with just as much stupidity across all media. As the old saying goes, “Some of the dumbest people are the ones who think they’re the smartest.”

Another issue I’m beginning to notice a lot more today than earlier are “traders” engaging in chat rooms or sites (many are of the self directing or trading their personal 401K’s not the professional) who’ve been trading actively for the last 4 or 5 years increasingly brushing off warnings that could not only take them off guard rather, could wipe them out entirely in mere minutes. As if sudden catastrophic events can’t happen anywhere, at any time, without warning. People forget or turn a blind eye to it far too often.

Prices can plunge or skyrocket in the blink of an eye jumping right over your stops. Trading platforms lockup. Brokers can’t answer the phones quick enough or can’t be reached. Then you’re watching on television only to realize that naked short position you have on that was deep in profit is now so deep in the money – you’re exercised. All in a matter of minutes before you can even get to your screens let alone your broker.

Or, you’re trading the futures market only to have your internet connection go down only to find out the markets have reversed because of some news pushing them to levels you never believed they’d ever see again. All this and more right smack dab in the late afternoon when the margin clerks look and say, “Close that account or position now!” Leaving one not only with a lost profit, rather – you’re wiped out, and OWE!” That’s reality.

This general theme I’m witnessing nearly everywhere. Again, its this often made assumption that it won’t or couldn’t happen to them. I’m here to state not from hearsay, but from actual personal experiences. It not only happens rather, just because it did – doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t happen again. Lightning may have its own cliché. However the world doesn’t revolve around only lightning.

I remember when I wrote an article on being prepared for emergencies as an entrepreneur of any stripe. What one should think about, consider, plan for, etc. This was before events such as the Occupy movement took shape. Many at first gave me the proverbial “sounds good” but basically brushed it off. Then businesses were shut down and more. (You can read the original article here)

I’ve personally traded through the market meltdown of 2008. I watched others as well as heard the horror stories of people who were crushed believing they always could close or reverse a position in time. You can’t. So you had better have alternatives. And, understand what your “worst case scenario” can truly be. While more importantly knowing if it were to happen – you could survive it. Let alone – live with it.

The true professionals that trade for a living in order to feed their families, they themselves have hard times in trying to cover every base, or enacting contingency plans in times of panic. (Alternative brokers, accounts, strategies to cover run away positions. etc.)

I’ll contend most people managing (or trading) their 401K while working their full-time job doesn’t really understand the true ramifications involved.  I’ll also contend they don’t fully appreciate or understand that in the blink of an eye: It can be all gone, and there’s no do-over. That’s the reality of reality.

There’s nothing wrong with chatting up a chat room or more with one’s prowess on this or that. However, if you truly have a grasp of reality you would not be doing so until at the very least you have answers to very real questions for when reality hits. Because – it does hit. And when it does its usually not with kid gloves. (Ask any gold futures or Forex trader in the Yen or Euro how they feel this week?)

Now that reality is back on full display are you contemplating or reassessing that your backup plans or resources are adequate? Or, are you shrugging it off as in some form of, “Happens else where – not to me.”

When you or a family member go to an event, vacation, or even just shopping, do you know what each would do if the worst ever happens? I personally ask my wife when she goes out shopping or milling around with her mother where she’s going. Or what side of town she’s going to be. Not because I’m possessive rather, just so I know if anything ever happened where I would begin enacting my plans.

In my business life, writings, speaking schedules, flights, cars, hotels, and more. I have plans for the “what if” moments. Or, if something were to happen what both of us would do if no communication were available. I’m not saying they’re perfect. However, I have actually thought and put them to paper in the event of reality hitting. Have you?

Having backup plans for life, loved ones, business, and more is the first thing of all things to be considered in today’s new reality. I believe once again a “wake-up call” has been placed squarely in front of us as to make sure we truly are paying attention.

You see things like this not only hit home for me because I once lived in Boston or follow the markets. It’s because I’ve personally received not one but, on three different occasions my wife calling me letting me know once again she’s being evacuated because of another “bomb threat” in her building. And not with the same employer or building. Rather, totally separate occasions.

Now you know why I referenced lightning. Everyone thinks it never will, never happen twice, or never happen to them. I felt the same way once. (You can read my thoughts when the last one took place here if you wish.)

However, reality showed me otherwise.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr