I’ve recently heard the phrase “I don’t trust you” as a reason not to engage with someone in real life, even in a simple conversation. And the I-don’t-trust-you-person’s metric for defining trust? Online.
If that is the dominant lens to decide conclusive trust, of course one doesn’t trust that other. They don’t actually know them. I would even go so far as to say it’s a little odd one thinks they can come to a fully decisive trust/distrust decision from purely online means.
Too many people think that “online” is real life. It’s not.
Even for the good ones who use social media to its fullest extent in its proper place, no matter how transparent one might be online (or their online reputation is that of being transparent), it can never equate to knowing that person. No matter how transparent one might be online, they still filter things in their real life and decide what, and what not, to put online. One cannot know another from the filtered information one decides to put online; thus one cannot actually formulate an accurate assessment of trust through that medium either. One cannot truly trust another unless they actually know them. Culture has redefined trust and knowledge.
So the person you think you’re trusting or distrusting from online information, whether firsthand or otherwise, is not the actual person in their fullest sense. Even the firsthand accounts of someone showing you their life through pictures and words, it might be a portion or even a majority of them, but it’s not fully them.
Knowledge is not what you read online. Knowledge is about in-person interaction and accountability. And without those very important variables, one’s words, blogs, pictures, updates, comments and filtered transparency mean nothing. Including mine. Opinions are a dime a dozen.
The same with trust. These days, since online is the medium of which to engage with all of life, culture has accommodated a new understanding of trust and knowledge because it’s practically impossible to wrap our minds, emotions and cognitive processes around our ever expanding world without these new definitions.
Thus, we must remind ourselves that we can take the information given online and know that it is at best only a part of what you see and read from that person.
Without direct contact with said person or situation we must know that we cannot fully have knowledge, or fully trust/distrust the person or the situation until direct contact is made. And on a personal note, can someone explain to me when 140 characters became dialoguing? I don’t care what anyone says, a 140 character or less dialogue is not dialogue. I have a hard time taking seriously people on Twitter who very seriously say they want to dialogue with me on Twitter (refusing to do so on the phone or Skype or even email) about nuanced and controversial topics.
A brave new world indeed…
You can read Part 1 of Trust here.