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Writing is something I am still getting the hang of. I would rather sit on my couch with you and verbally process my thoughts and have you say, “You’re crazy, man” or start weeping and move into the fetal position because I just nailed your deepest darkest fear. Oops.
But since that won’t happen today…here are my thoughts…
My theory is that I distrust due to some less overt reasons which I will try to break down in a list. It goes something like this:
1. Increased media =
Pro: We are aware and informed.
Con: Extreme stories can seem to be the norm. (Which leads to a heightened fear and distrust of mankind.
A study I read stated that the L.A. Times reported in 2007 that in the 1970’s, 87% of kids who lived within a mile or so of school walked or rode their bike. Now, because of fear of abduction, only 13% of children do. (A huge contributor to our childhood obesity problem.)
Why, when childhood abduction has been decreasing, and a child is more likely to be struck by lightning than be kidnapped, have we stopped letting our kids big wheel it to class? (this picture was the actual big wheel I owned. The adjustable seat was incredible!)
Media sources sense the popularity of reporting the most extreme stories, so it’s what we often hear. Stories of Hollywood’s infidelity and Ted Bundy can become our worldview. This is not to downplay the news. Being accurately informed is our right, and vital to educating humanity.
What we don’t inform ourselves on, is how it can become normalized. When an extreme is normalized, we often have a misconception of reality. We then act out of the extreme rather than the reality.
2) Distrust of Mankind* = Moving away from strong community bonds.
3) Move Away = Isolation.
For me, logic then says that safety is my priority. It is not safe for me to invest in people who could hurt or harm me. But, as a human being I still long to be known, have a community, and trust people.
4) Isolation = Autonomy
6. Autonomy + Need for Human Interaction = Virtual Communities (i.e. facebook/myspace/blogging/emailing/texting)
7. Virtual Communities = Satisfying and revealing a human need.
Today’s virtual communities can fulfill my human need, but there is little investment on my part, and little investment on the part of my friends. So can this contribute to our distrust of one another?
In a recent study I read, sociologist, Rob Putnam is referenced as an expert on autonomy, which he calls “personal isolation.”
I picture personal isolation as a man living in a van down by the river.
However, my isolation is less overt. I engage with all of my friends (friendship being the click of a button) and I am transparent and honest about my life (through photos of isolated events—never the photos where I am home alone on Friday night).
This is all done on a computer (alone).
Putnam talks about our loss of trust as a society due to social dislocation. I realized that I am in a sense, dislocating myself as I locate myself in a virtual world where no one really “knows” me beyond some pictures and minimal text.
This is not to bash virtual communities or technology at all. I love and could list off all the positives that technology brings.
But I need to be aware that the world cannot really know me, yet feel like they know me, simultaneously.
I believe my sub-conscious is aware that this is a false reality, thus making me a bit distrustful of others. It’s subtle dishonesty. Yet, I watch and accept, project and participate, unaware of the adverse affects that may be happening to humanity’s trust for one another.
If I am not fully known by others, how can I fully trust others? If technology continues the way it’s heading, how can we honestly represent ourselves in a healthy balanced way?
RECAP: Increased Media → Con (normalizing of extremes) …can cause → Distrust of mankind …can cause → Move away from strong community …can cause → Isolation …can cause → Autonomy …can cause→ Stronger desire for Community …can cause → Virtual Communities = reveals and satisfies a human need.
To be continued….
Part 3: Real Community = Real Trust
* Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself: “Mankind”. Basically, it’s made up of two separate words – “mank” and “ind”. What do these words mean? It’s a mystery, and that’s why so is mankind.
Love and Respect (Now) is a division of Love and Respect. Please be considerate.