Trust none but love everyone
Trust none but love everyone: After my post on February 7, a reader, and a bondhu, said, "I love the clarity at the ending...it is awesome .." Such accolades deserve a response, and I said my next piece will focus on my recent book on surveillance, trust and deceptive narratives, and the bondhu offered the tag line for this post - "love everyone, trust no one." My book deals with different kinds of surveillance that are used to identify deceptive narratives. In doing my research I learnt many things, especially what we all commonly know - producing deceptive narratives is a way of life. Lying is unavoidable. But my research also showed how simple it is, with contemporary technology, to identify these stories. My research took me to many dark places, including the so-called underbelly of the digital space, where there is a persistent game of hide and seek since the information must be hidden from prying eyes lest the hand of law reach out. Surveillance here is designed to catch the unambiguous "bad guys." To most of us, these Worlds don't matter as long the evil is contained and dealt with. To us what matters is the deception of the child with parents, spouse with spouse, a significant other with a significant other. There are no "bad guys" in these scenarios. There are only people who get hurt when they realise they were lied to. And this is the deception that fascinates me. Unlike the dark places where the bad guys can never be trusted, the deceivers in our everyday personal lives are usually trustworthy people - obedient child, caring husband, and loyal friends. People trust these labels, until something happens and you get the utterance my bondhu made. There is an intrinsic sorrow and cynicism in that statement that reflects the contemporary state of things. And the tools I researched showed it is ever so simple to see through acts from the shop assistant stealing from the cash box to the husband sleeping with his wife's friend. There is too much technology now that inadvertently exposes the deception. Even when one is not even suspicious. The digital facts stare you in the face. And you realise that you have been taken for a ride. The sad moment is when you realise how foolish you have been and the cold sweat runs down your spine and you ask, "for how long? And how did I not know?" Well, you did not know because you did not know there was anything to know. You fell for the best game in town - trust. You trusted, and you got deceived. Thus the statement from my bondhu "trust no one," but "love everyone," knowing full well that you are about to be told a deceptive narrative. Your husband did not go out of town for work, but was in bed with your friend. You trusted and never even thought to check the digital trail! In fact, as you will see in my book, a philandering husband was caught with his pants down based only on data from a health tracker - his heartbeat was escalating when he was supposed to be in the office. The wife had access to the tracker data! However, usually this works because the deceiver utilses a powerful weapon - trust. The deceived trusts the deceiver. The deceived, bereft of imagination, takes information on face value. The wife really believed that those two days he was out of town, he was actually at a meeting and not with her friend. And this blind belief hands power to the deceiving husband - perhaps a man of caliber and beyond reproach - that is his protection - how can you not trust me. But, does the level of deception matter? Is it the same to steal from the till as to sleep with your best friend's wife? Is it the same to get caught? All my interviews with the deceivers have shown there is a demarcation point and that point is laid out by the deceiver because the deceiver has the upper hand - the hand of trust. Deceivers like adulterous husbands genuinely believe that for his comfort it is OK to lie to the wife when he is in bed with the wife's friend. As long as no one knows it is OK. But the technology knows! To the deceived, however, there is no demarcation point. When we get lied to we usually do not determine the extent of the lie, we only know we have been lied to. On the other hand, when we lie we always think well this is a white lie as opposed to a multi-colored one. And this is where surveillance comes in with the technologies that we have allowed ourselves to be surrounded with. The tools do not judge, the tools tell us the facts, we are the ones who eventually judge and figure out how we use the facts. The facts surround us; all we have to do is be open to the possibilities that the facts offer. With the tools, if we pay attention, we can know even if we did not want to know. Yet, we would not know even if the facts are staring us in the face if we didn't know that there was something to know. But there's always something to know. Surveillance is premised on the fact that there is always is something to know. And the deceived are catching on, as we let more surveillance come into our lives, we are empowering the deceived and weakening the deceiver. As the Police said, "I will be watching you."