Trust vs Use networks

There are moments in one’s professional life that stand at signposts. Like many people, I tend to live in the now to near future and generally find living life ‘in trust’ of other people is the ‘code’ most useful to a sense of purpose and balance. There is probably a personality trait for this, however, it’s one that I’m beginning to think I don’t want to pass onto my children.

People are not universally geared to ‘doing the right thing’ by other people. It seems this is variable in almost all societies. Some people are more interested in themselves, what they want etc., than others and they reveal this is a variable which emerges over time – some sooner than others. There are times where I (and I’m not alone) invest many many hours in something we are doing — trusting that it’s the right thing to do — and that over time, the extra (often unpaid and unseen) time spent will be well spent and provide some assurance of on-going benefit. This isn’t the case. After decades of trying this, I’ve learned finally that while many people have the ‘code’ around ‘doing the right thing’ – others have adapted their self-interest ‘code’ to mimic it — and you get let down or excluded.

This is something I want my own kids to be aware of as my own kids get older. The digital world is full of people whom we think we ‘know’ but in reality rarely see and only know through their self-image online, which we also know is constructed. Cyber safety is not simply about physical harm and threat — it’s about a foggy word of real work, where sometimes the total investment made will have no return at all unless you make people value it.

The problem is that this is very hard to do in reality and being prepared to jettison people from the personal-network is now a finger press, no come-back option. This creates real problem in building trust-networks vs use-networks. How do kids know which they are getting involved in when so many are offering the blue-pill and it takes time (and effort) – sometimes a long time — to recognize the reality of what they’ve been doing – perhaps for years. There’s no rewind in cyberspace.

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One thought on “Trust vs Use networks

  1. I agree that there are use relationships in our lives (professional and other). It only becomes a problem when the use benefits are not mutual. And education seems to be a more fertile space for using than other domains. I totally hear where you are coming from. Things may seem mutual at first but are really about the other advantaging themselves through your “partnership”, not advancing the partnership. It’s so hard at the outset to know who might be like this or turn this way. Sometimes we care less when this happens (chalk it up to experience) but it is darned hard when you have actually invested of yourself, your time and your reputation to what ends up of no benefit.

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