The Rebirth of Trust

The Rebirth of Trust

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There was a time when our world was ‘local’. When you knew your neighbour well. When you could let your kids play in the street without fear. When you trusted people.

In many ways, we have lost that trust. Even at a local level.

Access to global information and the use of negative media to gain attention, to sell papers and ideas, have created a breakdown in societal trust. This is compounded by the continuous bombardment of marketing messages that also create fear, in themselves.

Designed to ensure our survival at a local level, our brains now have access to global threats. Our fight, flight or freeze instincts and adrenalin surges are activated purely from sitting at home, watching the news, reading the paper or flicking through Facebook. Consistent exposure to ‘danger’ or ‘outrage’ makes astonishing assaults on our biology, which has contributed to an explosion in health problems and issues like anxiety and loneliness. And threats seem to lie everywhere – making us wary of others.

Fortunately, this is beginning to change – and change quickly. Look at the emergence of two-way trust networks like Airbnb, Uber and others. We are learning to trust to share our cars and our houses with complete strangers. The fascinating thing about using these services is how they change behaviour. If you stay in an Airbnb property or use an Uber vehicle, you are likely to behave better because you are being reviewed. Likewise, the service will be better because you are reviewing the provider. This mutual and public transparency creates wonderful interactions and encourages people to be their best selves more of the time.

If you look at large-scale societal experiments like Burning Man, trust in the shared value system creates implied trust between individuals and, therefore, a space for much deeper connections. Because of that freedom and value system, people feel empowered to bring their best selves to the event, which creates an astonishing environment for positive human behaviour.

Previously, I have written about the death of privacy and its positive outcome: the worldwide increase in transparency. We are moving into an era when our facial expressions and even our thoughts are going to become transparent. The evolution of technologies like Google Glass and Microsoft Hololens will allow us to read facial expressions in real time. Thought to thought communication is already happening and is sure to expand, way beyond email. We are going to know more easily when to trust someone and when not to. This will automatically change behaviours and their impact. Crime levels are already plummeting, even though we would not think it, given the media focus on bad news. As the world is becoming more transparent, it is becoming harder and harder for people to get away with crime. The world is actually becoming much safer – and yet, we do not feel safe.

When we start to feel as safe everywhere as we do in trusting an Airbnb apartment or an Uber car, then our behaviours will radically change.

Loss of privacy terrifies people and yet there are great arguments that as a result of this transparency, a rebirth of trust could mean the return of the trust network we used to have locally – but this time, on a global scale.

I invite you to imagine such a world:

  • How will we be, when we can trust everyone we meet?
  • When everyone can trust anyone, what will the world be like?
  • And most importantly of all – how will your behaviour change, in a fully transparent world?
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Comments

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  1. For me, this is no rebirth.

    Trust is primary driver for everything, always has been and always will be.

    No trust. Nothing happens. Simple.

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