For today's #showcase-sunday I am returning to a post on trust from about two years ago. I see trust as an increasingly important component of the internet and something that the blockchains will increasingly look to question. Currently they are approaching it from the transactional standpoint alone, but eventually through webs of trust and trustless networks, a much higher degree of trust could form between unknown parties in a trustless network.
This might scare many people and rightly so perhaps as we have become accustomed to living in a world where there are very few consequesnces to our online behaviors, even though much more of our lives are getting lived online. As I mentioned about the new digitial economies, the more our lives and earnings get pushed into the realm of digital streams, the more important trusted relationships will become.
In this world, we are all anonymous.
You think you know me, you think you know what I am like? Do you think you know what your friend is like, your family?
I was talking with a friend last night who said, "I don't trust many people", and I replied,
you don't trust anyone.
This may require a tiny bit of clarification but before I do that, do you trust anyone? Who are they and why do you trust them?
Flaws in judgement
So, the reason we don't actually trust anyone is because who we are actually trusting is ourselves. We are trusting our ability to judge someone's character based on the way we have read the cues exhibited. We transcribe our trust to someone after we have evaluated them through our filters.
Nearly everyone thinks that they are a good judge of character, yet time and time again this is proven false as others 'break trust'. No one can break your trust, all they can do is act differently to your evaluation and acknowledge the conflict. The blame of "broken trust" lays solely on the individual who feels that they have been wronged.
Who was in the wrong really, as if you look at the act of breaking trust, it is actually that someone behaved differently than expected and to say they are in the wrong is to say that they should conform to your expectations. What happens to "be yourself" when in practice that means, 'as long as you do what is expected of you'?
Cooperation and punishment
This is the problem with trust as it is really only a one-sided concept but involves more than one person. It is the cooperation between numbers that builds a community and for that cooperation to take place, it does require having trust in each, even though it is only the trusting of one's own evaluated opinion of the other.
We have evolved as social beings that have been successful because of our ability to form groups and work together toward a common goal. This cooperation is dependent on having the belief that each participant will act in the best interest of the group and most do as to do otherwise, is to lose the support of the group.
This worked well for many millennia and we developed personal strategies to gather, assess and apply our opinionated trust. It worked so well because interaction was face to face, groups were small, each relied on others for a range of skills and the cost of non-cooperation meant ostracisation, and that is a fate akin to death in a hostile environment where other groups are much more likely to kill a stranger than welcome them in.
Can I trust you, stranger?
This has changed massively though as a lot of interaction is faceless, the groups are enormous, skills can be bought and non-cooperation has no penalty as there are always options for survival after ostracisation from one group.
The problem now lays in the situation that we are designed for community but, there are none of the checks and balances to keep bad actors within from acting against best interests. Not only that, but because of the size and diversity of the groups, if one acts badly, there is always another group that has enough distance to not know of the transgressions.
This anonymity and ability to join numerous groups is how conmen and snake oil salesmen are able to stay in business. They only need the trust to last long enough for them to swindle and then they move along to the next town and new marks to run the con again. And, they too have developed strategies to play on the evaluation mechanisms, develop favourable expectations and win the trust of people.
Low risk, high reward, poor skills
It is an art form of deception and manipulation that is carefully crafted to normally satisfy the best interests of the individual over that of others. And, we have designed the perfect ecosystem to support it, the internet. It is an environment that facilitates scam through anonymity and reduction in public assessment points, while degrading the skills necessary to detect such things.
It is also a place that pushes heavily toward materialistic tendencies and since it is largely experienced alone, the opportunity for selfish greed is higher. For those that partake in the deception at the expense of others, there is the added benefit that one need not see the damage and harm caused. It gamifies society and community and makes winning much more individual and reward based without attention to civic duty.
All of these behaviours and interactions fascinate me at Steem. It is the reason why people give their owner keys out in chat, or send SBD to some random exchange account expecting return or think that some whale is actually asking for their help and it requires some cost action on their part.
Those that fall for the scams are those who look at the indicators, evaluate the situation as favourable and deem it worthy of the risk considering the return. What they don't consider is that their own greed colours their assessment and accentuates the positives and twists the negatives until they are no longer relevant.
Now, back to the start for a moment. Have you ever had your trust 'broken' by a person you care about? Was it because they didn't act like themselves, or was it because you evaluated 'who they are' badly? Why did you evaluate badly if you are such a good judge of character? Greed.
You wanted something from them didn't you? You wanted their status, power, body, love... you built up expectations based on what you wanted them to deliver and when they failed, you blamed them. Again, who is behaving badly? The one who acts on their nature or the one who expects someone else to behave against their own nature?
Trust is a complex system that is full of a wide range of variables that are very hard to predict when they influence upon each other and as contexts and circumstances change. Remember that when you place your trust in someone, it is a contract between your evaluations and expectations, not them, as they will do as they do. When your trust is broken, it was your evaluations and expectations that were poorly aligned with who they actually are.
Is that their fault?
[ a Steem original ]