My daughters were aghast. A friend emailed me an invitation to join Facebook. "Mum!" my daughters cried in unison. "What do you mean you're on Facebook? Ugh!"
I wasn't quite sure what caused their angst. I mean, Facebook is a 'social utility'. I'm social. I spend an inordinate amount of time every day in front of a screen and keyboard, typing on a computer plugged into the utility bar at my feet. I have what it takes join Facebook.
Along with not understanding what caused my daughters concern to have their mother share their social venue, I also didn't know what 'social utility' meant.
So I did a little hunting.
According to Muthucumaru Maheswaran, an assistant professor at the School of Computer Science at McGill University in Montreal, "a social utility network is defined as a system that provides a suite of primitive functions for users to communicate and collaborate with their friends and discover new friends in a secure and trusted manner. Based on their purpose, the distributed functions can be grouped into data management, task management, and trust management."
He's got to be kidding, right? Trust management? It reminds me of that rhyme we used to sing as kids to determine who got what in the high-stakes game of dividing the pie. "One for you. Two for me."
I suppose in the world of social utilities, trust is the currency the network measures to determine its success.
I'm having difficulty with this one. The Free Dictionary by Farlex defines trust as: Firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing.
As I watch my daughters fly through photos, scanning messages, pinging and leaving notes on Facebook walls I wonder how they are managing their trust? Do they even think about it? Is the ubiquitous Internet so pervasive in their lives that they cannot conceive of its absence from their daily routines? I wonder if they question the information provided, or simply blindly trust the ability of the social utility to keep the portals to communication open with the assumption that if I read it on your wall, it must be true. McLuhan said it, "The medium is the message."
Trust in cyberspace is not determined by the 'object' with whom we're communicating. It's determined by the ability of the social utility we depend upon to keep functioning, quickly, effectively, dependably. Downtime is not acceptable in the world of cyber communication.
No one verifies, confirms, or vouches for the information shared. That's up to the parties involved. And that's where cyber-communication gets dicey.
Recently, while reading de Becker's "Protecting The Gift", I wondered about the questions I don't, or do ask, a new acquaintance. Imagine, writes de Becker, that when interviewing prospective baby-sitters, you ask, "Have you ever abused a child?" If their response is, "Define abuse," or "What have you heard?" you can be pretty sure, they're not the baby-sitter you're looking for.
But, those aren't questions we ask in 'normal' society. The very question causes me to sit up straight. My mind immediately jumps to, 'but I can't ask that. It's rude."
Yet, think about it. We entrust our children to almost strangers and do not ask the one question we fear the most. "Will you abuse my children?" While I realize someone is not about to answer, "Yes," what they communicate when they respond will tell us alot about their intentions. As deBecker says, "Good applicants will certainly understand, and bad applicants may reveal themselves."
I no longer have the need for babysitters, but imagine the angst I could have saved myself if I'd had the courage to ask the tough questions when they mattered the most! Imagine the stress we could relieve if in our lives we asked new acquaintances, "Have you ever abused someone you said you love?" If they answer, define abuse, we have our answer. What we do with it tells us a lot about ourselves. If we begin a discourse defining abuse, we've got trust (and boundary) issues! Not with someone else, but with ourselves. How we behave reveals who we are.
Revealing who we are begins with how much trust we place in the environment and people with whom we are interacting. Facebook claims, it is "a social utility that connects you with the people around you." Sure it does. On the flat screen of my computer monitor. But, it's easy to lie in a world where the only connection we have is based on invisible threads spinning their way around the globe, carrying the bits and bytes of our communication to distant portals we cannot verify as 'real'.
Cyberspace teaches us to trust based on limited information. I wonder how that carries over into 3-D living?
Will my daughters, with their Facebook infused communications, trust differently than I do? Will they be able to discern between what's real, who's not, who's lying and who's being truthful through the words and pictures someone chooses to share about themselves? Will they be more trusting? Or less?
Which brings me right back to my truth. I cannot trust someone else until I trust myself. I must first be trustworthy to be trusting.
In the past, where it came to men, I made some pretty poor choices. I learned to not trust my judgement, so I ignored it and threw myself into places I had no right to be. Today, I trust myself to make choices that support and honour me. I trust myself to make choices that reflect my values, principles and beliefs. And, I trust myself to know when fear is driving my choices away from my courage to do the right thing.
I never trusted myself with myself in the past. What a gift to come to this place where I know, whether or not the other person is trustworthy is not my issue. Am I trustworthy, truthful, honest -- those are my concerns. When I am aligned with my values, I am walking in trust that whatever in the world happens, I will respond with grace, ease and dignity. I will be true to who I am. I will turn up, pay attention, speak my truth with a loving heart and stay unattached to the outcome.
May you have a trustfilled day knowing you make a difference when you trust yourself to do the right thing.