Monday, December 11, 2006

It's a matter of trust

Last week, the CEO of the online auction site eBay boasted that his company had taught 13 million people to trust each other – almost all of them total strangers! Contrary to any conclusion that ‘pure reason’ may take us to, most of us would trust a stranger with our money – given the right conditions and circumstances - even though we have little or no clue about their identity. It is tempting to reason that people trust eBay and therefore anybody who is selling something on eBay would ‘inherit’ part of that trust, but that may not be the ‘whole truth’.

The fact is we are far more willing than we can even imagine; to trust anyone who is in a position to give us something we want or need at a reasonable ‘price’. What is meant by ‘price’ may not necessarily be a monetary figure, but anything we deem valuable such as social acceptance or even love and reputation, because that is the force that has propelled ‘social networking websites’ into one of the most active realms of the Internet. While a considerable number of members on social networking sites seem to shun interacting with strangers, even most of them are likely to initiate interactions with a stranger who may have common interests or a ‘profile’ that seems very interesting or attractive in some level.

So is the Internet telling us that trust is not something that always needs to be ‘earned the hard way’? What would the word ‘trust’ mean if it is something we would trade willingly to buy the desires of out hearts and minds?