Estimated reading time: 6 minutes, 55 seconds

To trust, or not to trust…

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes, 55 seconds

I didn’t think I’d be blogging about this today. I’d already written a post about trust a bit earlier than the unit for talking about it in #ccourses

But then I read Kevin‘s post on the breach of trust, Laura Gibbs’ post on trust vs. FUD, and Jonathan Worth‘s post – and I just had to blog to help myself keep all the amazing thoughts/ideas from their posts together in one place 🙂

Let me start with Kevin’s post. Heartbreaking story of a situation where he was responsible for an online community that was meant to be private, but where someone found their photo (shared in that private space) on google – and got really upset with him. It was only a headshot, but I’ve heard of worse. Because there are certain digitally literate and cautious things you can do, but people tend to believe there is privacy in some spaces. Then again, as Jonathan says in his post, “we cannot guarantee technological security” – and so, I guess, in ways, we should never assume (or promise) complete privacy. As Alan Levine once said, “never post anything you wouldn’t want your mom to read” (and in my case, I’d probably also think of my daughter, and to a lesser degree, my husband… you get the picture).

I think it’s important that, despite the experience Kevin recounts, it did not break his faith/trust in online networked spaces. Which brings me to Laura’s post, where she talks about how she sees her role as a teacher of college students. She says she thinks her role is:

Choosing the right tools.
Teaching how to use the tools.
Encouraging the students to trust themselves.
Spreading knowledge, not FUD [Fear-Uncertainty-Doubt].

Like Laura, I’ve not taught K-12 so I’m sure issues of online privacy are different for that age (as I discuss with my own student-teachers who teach that age). If we’re dealing with adults, it seems digital literacy and awareness are key. And we don’t want to spread so much fear that people lose trust totally. Uncertainty, though, I’m OK with 🙂 They need to live with the uncertainty that is the fact or our postmodern existence (not that this sentence makes any sense).

Which brings me to Jonathan Worth’s post – I loved this entire paragraph so I’m quoting it as is:

Networks and societies as a whole cannot function without this omnipresent low-level trust and security. I have to trust other drivers to abide by traffic laws when I take my children to school. I have to trust that the teachers at their school will teach and care for them during the day. This enables me to go to work and specialise as a photography teacher of still other people’s kids. I trust that my employer will in turn pay me for doing so and if they don’t, then I have to trust that the law will serve to force them. This trust and predictability provides a degree of “security”. Without it I cannot drive as efficiently on the roads, my children must be home schooled and I cannot make time to specialise in teaching photography because I will be too busy farming behind secure walls. Lack of trust inhibits civic engagement.

I think what Jonathan is describing here is the line between having a healthy degree of trust/skepticism, and being so skeptical as to be paranoid.

I’m in this very strange situation where I am (probably naively) a highly-trusting person, particularly online. I don’t think I share anything I’m scared will later come back and bite me (though I did once write a really angry status update on facebook and had many good friends tell me to delete it forever or else it may come and hurt me professionally – let’s hope it’s not easy to find after I deleted it; u never know with facebook!) – for the most part, I’m OK with everything I post. But you never know in the world of hypervigilance and surveillance what kind of thing will be mistaken, misconstrued and used against you (think again of the novel Little Brother, which I am reading thru very slowly because I’ve been needing to sleep a bit more than my usual 4-5 hours a night).

I’ve been thinking about how I live in a situation where in my day-to-day life, there is a lot of fear and doubt and skepticism and paranoia all over the place, personally and politically, and yet here I am. Building these online relationships that nurture my mind and (yes!) my soul.

Back to Jonathan’s post. He suggests that the growing threat of how all our “inconsequential” online data gets used by others without our permission…he suggests this creates mistrust and affects digital intimacies (I’d call them “online intimacies” – being finnicky here).

But he’s right: it’s up to us: “as instructors and mentors in and of these digital spaces, if we don’t develop strategies and processes with our learners for mitigating possible consequences, then who will?

Looking forward to hearing different people’s strategies and processes for this. Already, I’ve been questioning how to introduce twitter to my students (in reality, those who already have twitter accounts don’t want to share them with me haha so I told them to create new ones for the course) and will probably take on the same role Laura is: help them become aware, make their own decisions, take responsibility for their own actions, knowing, always, that we are uncertain of the consequences! But also, thinking of what can be done to do as Jonathan suggests. Hoping this week will spark a constructive discussion on that.

I was about to end this post, then started thinking of the song “When You Say Nothing at All” (which I knew before Boyzone made it popular originally as a country song by Keith Whitley, re-done more recently by Alisson Krauss) and the part about “the touch of your hand says you’ll catch me if ever I fall”… and another beautiful country song by Randy Travis:

No chains
No strings
No fences
No walls
No net
Just you
To catch me when I fall
Look heart
No hands

And although both these song-lyrics were meant in a romantic way, I found they applied really well for parenting. Well, obviously kids at first “say nothing at all” and yet they speak to our hearts; and they trust us implicitly. Right?

But I’m thinking of them also in terms of online trust. I’m not suggesting we throw caution to the wind, but also saying I hope we don’t let technology make us lose our trust in PEOPLE.

See my comments on the Randy Travis lyrics below:

No chains [I have no obligation to be online doing this connected stuff, I am doing it because I want to]
No strings [no commitment; not getting paid for it]
No fences [it’s the open web]
No walls [no paywall, no LMS, it’s all open]
No net [well, no, this is THE interNET]
Just you [and that’s every single person I connect with deeply online]
To catch me when I fall [and so many online friends HAVE caught me when I was soooo down my real life could not lift me up – thank you again]
Look heart [and my heart is so involved]
No hands [I’m letting go… trusting until the axe drops; but using my hands to type 😉 ]

OK LAST LAST THING (and this is after I published the post). I was reminded of this quote from Little Brother, on privacy as a “right”:

There’s something really liberating about having some corner of your life that’s yours, that no one gets to see except you. It’s a little like nudity or taking a dump. Everyone gets naked every once in a while. Everyone has to squat on the toilet. There’s nothing shameful, deviant or weird about either of them. But what if I decreed that from now on, every time you went to evacuate some solid waste, you’d have to do it in a glass room perched in the middle of Times Square, and you’d be buck naked?

It’s not about doing something shameful. It’s about doing something private. It’s about your life belonging to you. [emphases in original]

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