Or are you not quite sure about me? Is the jury out? Are you lurking, trying to make up your mind?
Or maybe you really don’t trust me at all? Are you here to confirm that opinion? Do you take my words and add them to your anti-trust notebook?
What is your trust ‘code of practice’? Do you give away your trust easily, expecting the good in people and occasionally being disappointed, or are you a watcher, standing well back and assessing before making a decision?
Personally I’m somewhere in the middle, I like to think that I’m an open, trusting type and that I’d always give people the benefit of the doubt. But I temper this with a scoop full of gut instinct and a healthy dose of cynicism (that’s about 15ml for the particular amongst you).
It can be hard enough in real life to work out who you can trust but that’s nothing compared to the online world. For those blessed with an average amount of articulative skill it’s relatively easy to build an online persona that shares only a semblance of commonality with your real life presence. Online you can be anyone you want to be, you can cut out all those elements of you that you don’t like and highlight those that you do. Or can you? At what point does it become impossible to keep up the charade?
On a similar note, it’s Big Brother season again. We’re all familiar with the format now, there’s always the funny one, the old one, the sensible one, the completely crazy one, the slutty one, the fragile one and a couple of others thrown in for explosive effect. Over the years there have been countless attempts by inmates to act their way through it, but it always falls apart. When you’re under constant scrutiny it’s almost impossible to maintain that level of deceit.
So is the same thing true of the online world? Will true colours always out?
What happens when someone abuses our trust? Behaves in a way that upsets or hurts us? How easy is it to regain that trust? Is it even possible?
Generally when our trust is tested we retreat, we build up our barricades and we refuse to let people in. If our trust has been abused by a partner, our next relationship will undoubtedly be affected as we begin the slow process of revealing ourself again. If a close friend or family member has hurt us, we might question all of those close to us – looking for signs of similar behaviour. If a stranger behaves in an unkind or inappropriate way it will have similar repercussions on our ability to address the world around us, resulting in feelings of ‘Is everyone out to get me?”.
But what about our children? How do we teach them to trust, whilst simultaneously alerting them to the fact that there are people out there who will hurt them? Are we teaching our children to view the world through cynical spectacles when really we should be showing them how to embrace life? Are we becoming too clouded by fear to enable us to trust?
It might explain why so many of us feel more comfortable with our online friends than getting out there and meeting the whole person. I’m happy to say that my recent experiences of meeting online friends have all been very good, reinforcing my opinion that you can decipher an awful lot about someone based on their online presence, and I’m delighted that my virtual world is melding with the real.
It concerns me that in our increasingly litigious society we might be losing our grip. Health and Safety guidelines, procedures for safeguarding children – all vital in the right context – are being extrapolated to distort our view of the most normal of situations. My daughter was recently told that she must not come and say hello to me during her lunchtime when I drop off her younger sister at school. This, despite the fact that she is playing on the field not 20 yards away. Naturally this upset both of us enough for me to take it up with the headmistress who is, thankfully, an incredibly sensible woman. She advised us to ignore the directive but did explain that it was probably a misguided attempt at safeguarding. Not everyone would have been so sensible….
Thank you for your comments, I really appreciate them all and try and answer them asap….feel free to pop back and carry on the conversation 🙂