Today we’re going to talk about some heavy stuff. I live my life online. I’m constantly tweeting. I post on here and I make videos. I love it. It is, quite literally, my life. I love being “plugged in.” It allows me to stay connected with people. Today I was thinking about what that means about my trust of the internet. I would like to pose the question “What is trust in the age of the internet?”
I’m going to answer that question as well as I can in this post, but there is no way I can cover every facet. I don’t doubt you have your own ideas about trust, so please share them with me. Post them in the comments.Tweet them at me. I don’t care how. I just want to know your thoughts.
So, I have been posting things about my life on the internet for most of my life. For at least the past ten years, maybe more, maybe a little less, I’m not quite sure, there has been some kind of information about me on the internet. There is my genealogy page and I had an original blog on here too that I have since scrapped, but I still have all the old posts. I got a YouTube in 2008 and a Twitter in 2009. I don’t remember when I got a Facebook, but it was early. I didn’t get a tumblr until 2012, but otherwise, I’ve been relatively present on the main social media websites as they’ve grown and matured. The whole point of this paragraph is to let you know just how much information there is about me on the internet. Someone could probably write a biography about me without ever talking directly to me. That’s how much of my life is on the internet.
Now, what does this mean about my trust? I would consider myself a relatively trusting person for people I meet IRL. Most of that trust extends to people I meet on the internet. This is especially true if I meet them on Twitter or tumblr. I love meeting people on Twitter. It’s one of my favorite past times. I treat all of these people just as I would treat my IRL friends and acquaintances.
Of those rules I learned about internet safety I learned in school, only some of them still apply. I’ve adapted my trust of people and websites as I’ve grown and learned more about the internet and as the internet itself has changed.
I don’t think I have become more trusting as I’ve grown older. My trust levels have stayed the same. Instead, I think society has realized that the internet is full of other people just like me: trying to make connections. There are people on the internet that will use you for your money and whatnot, but those people exist in meatspace too. The trick is being able to spot them, which online is actually easier than in meatspace. You can’t Google a stranger you just met if you are still talking to them. That would be rude. On the internet however, they’ll never know if you stalk their social media while you chat with them.
Do I live in a nice, happy corner of the internet? Oh definitely. I surround myself with people I like. I fill my feeds with nice people who’s content and presence I enjoy. But that is exactly what I do in real life as well.
There is so much similarity between the “real world” and the internet because they are inherently linked. There is no going back to a time before the internet because it has changed the way our society functions. However, I don’t think it has changed the way we trust people. Trust in the age of the internet is just the same as trust before the internet. Only now, you can easily find all kinds of information on people like me, who live on social media and that’s not a bad thing.
Trust levels vary by person. So does the way people use social media. People with huge followings and large fanbases cannot always use social media the way I do. The internet is a different place when a million people are looking at you then when only a hundred are looking at you.
I quite honestly, would love to find out what it’s like to have a large following on the internet. They way you trust people has to change when you are “internet-famous.”
What do you think? I’m truly curious.
Until next week,