And You I Trust

And You I Trust. Really? After about five years of focused research on surveillance and the resulting book, I am doubtful. Trust is a disappearing element in a World that has become self-centered and willing to risk a lot for the thing we want to do that others want to deny us. Trust rests on the assurance that you will not be judged. Trust assumes that you are accepted as you are. That it requires no pretense, it requires no secrets. But we know that is a myth. In reality, the reverse of trust - suspicion - is what often runs our lives. Every action is worthy of doubt. And sometimes rightfully - because things may not be as they appear. The apparent innocence is only the "public face" that the thinker Goffman taught us about. We present the public face. We lie. Blatantly. Because it suits our purpose. Because we hope we will not be found out. Because we know that we are trusted. And we abuse that trust. In our circles of trust we find the comfort of knowing that we can lie, and no one will suspect anything. That is how trust operates. Many would generate trust to be able to abuse it easily. At the same time, trust comes with control. A person controls the significant other through the mechanism of trust. I trust you that you will never do "that." Whatever that "that" is. Trust is meant to generate guilt. If you break the trust then you will be guilty. And in that toxicity of guilt we enter the anxious space of being found out. "You want to believe no one is watching.” "I can do what I want." But can you? And even if you do, will you ever be comfortable? That gnaws away, except for some, who can overcome that guilt, and say it does not matter, “I can live with the guilt.” But the outcome of discovery of broken trust may be harsh – that is a risk one lives with. But what happens to the one who is on the other side of the equation and actually trusts someone else, blindly? What happens when that person knows that their trust was abused? Should that person not have trusted at all? Perhaps. All the evidence I have from my work demonstrates that trust is a disappearing entity, which is why surveillance is so vital. Cameras everywhere. Watching. Will that person shoplift? Will the nanny abuse the child? Is the spouse who claims to be at work actually in someone else's arms? There is a tool to check everything. There is no escape if the watcher is smart and there are a lot of smart watchers now. What will that World look like? I sort of know, because for the past several years I have lived in that World. And what I have learnt is simultaneously scary and amusing. The technology has changed so much that the question of trust comes down to a tussle - a game to see who flinches first and where suspicion sets in and trust disappears. Do you keep your location turned off on your phone? Why? Because are you suspicious that someone is tracking you? And what happens when that someone notices that your location is turned off? Why is the location turned off, the question comes up? Because there is something to hide. Yet, the retort back is "I turn my location off because I suspect you are tracking me." The Mexican standoff. The impasse. In the end no one wins. The dominant spouse will insist that the location should be on. Or the dominant spouse refuses to turn it on. Trust is control. Imagine for a moment you are going away on a trip. Would you turn the location off? Because you have something to hide or because you are suspicious and feel you are being watched? Difficult questions to ponder but once the questions enter your life, some amount of trust has been lost. What then is wiser? To trust or not to trust. That defines who we are. To not trust is to judge. To not judge is to trust. In the end one hopes for what Billy Joel said, "But that can't happen to us/'Cause it's always been a matter of trust." My location is always on.


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