Value of Trust

Caspar David Friedrich: The hiker above the sea of fog // Public domain

The dental procedure started uneventfully. While the dentist worked in the reclined chair I relinquished myself to the thought of what to write about.

Originally, I wanted to further explore the notion that honesty is increasing in value, something I previously wrote about. I wanted to expand on the idea that relatively novel platforms, such as Instagram and TikTok, are changing the way we see things. Everyone with a camera phone can make videos without any regards to aesthetic rules about composition, lighting, narrative structure and so forth. Those videos that are much more composed are regarded as too artificial, and are trying too hard, whereas realism gained in importance.

Then, as the dentist changed tools, it occurred to me that it might be interesting to write about the recent international scandal with Hungary in the middle. Apparently a spy software was used by secret services to tap into the phones of people, who posed no criminal or national security threat. The Hungarian government has been accused of using the software to spy on critics of the current regime, an allegation the government and the authorities deny.

Yet, there is simply insufficient information in the possession those not part of the investigative team dealing with the topic (or the authorities) to pass judgement. Was it really the Hungarian authorities spying or a foreign government’s secret service, deliberately targeting critics, to plant seeds of discord in Hungary through the scandal?

It would be a typical Russian tactic. There is simply not enough vetted information yet to move beyond conspiracy theories at this point.

Then there is the ever buzzing topic of the pandemic, and how it changes politics, society, human rights, healthcare, and even the way we look at data. Since, however ,the past 1.5 years of our lives have been ruled over by the pandemic, the topic has been picked dry.

There is one topic that is an underlying factor in all the abovementioned story ideas, which ultimately I decided to write about, and that is trust. I sit in the chair of a private dentist rather than one provided by public healthcare because I trust them better, even though it costs me more. I trust that they will give me the best anesthetics, will use the best tools, and will do his best, so that I pay them, and will continue to use his services if required.

In the public healthcare system these incentives are lacking and, as a consequence, I wouldn’t trust a dentist there enough to let my mind wander during the procedure to such topics.

People distrust artificially composed videos that do not adequately reflect reality. As honesty increases in value, so does trust. Too often have we been bombarded with distorted reality, overembellished products in advertisement, or promises in politics. In the long term these exaggerations eroded our trust in brands and parties, and tend to value raw reality more as it seems more honest, and it is something we can trust.

And who do we trust in the story about the spy software? The investigative journalists, or the governments? Might the truth be somewhere in between? Which side managed to build up a better reputation? Or are we utterly polarized that the people of one echo chamber will religiously stick to believing one side, while in another echo chamber the other side is right? Ultimately the side that gains more trust will win this battle, regardless of the objective truth.

The situation is similar in the case of the pandemic. We trusted the governments and scientists that wearing masks, staying inside, and washing our hands is the best for us. Most of us did not have the means to conduct expensive studies in the matter so we decided to accept these measures at face value. We trusted to promises that it will be over soon, and we were disappointed.

How far does our trust go and how much our freedoms are we willing to relinquish because of it? On the other side, the governments and scientists failed to build up trust in a lot of communities, such as immigrants and minorities, and thus these people tend to reject vaccines because they trust fake news more.

Trust is all the rage now, and liberals need to focus more on building it up. They need people to trust they are more pragmatic, have answers and actual measures ready to solve problems and won’t just shilly-shally. Others might be better at building up trust even though they will not live up to it later on. Liberals might intend to live up to their promises, but if nobody trust them to deliver, it doesn’t matter a bit.

Continue exploring:

Liberalism Failed COVID Test

Into Infantile Society

Mate Hajba
Free Market Foundation