Admit it, those jokes on the Internet about CIA and FBI agents monitoring our computer activity and spying on us through our cameras and microphones had a lot of us taping over our webcams.
Trust is a scary enough concept as it is for some of us. Often, the process of connecting feels like taking a giant leap of faith, trusting that people won’t lie to us, won’t betray us, or won’t hurt us. It is only natural to want to protect ourselves, and so in the digital age where connectivity is so heightened and information so transparent and permanent, privacy and security can feel like something from the past.
Of course, we take steps to ensure our privacy and personal information is intact. But as we adapt to fast paced technologies it can often feel like these things are out of our control. For example, the recent hack of the Twitter CEO’s own account begs the question of just how safe our own information is on these accounts if even his isn’t. The Faceapp controversy that led many to believe photos were being taken off their phone without their permission proved to many people that their paranoia over sharing personal info was not misplaced. It left many distressed about their photos were being processed off of their devices.
There are similar concerns about other companies that take personal information. Apple uses fingerprinting ID and Facial Recognition to open devices. Ancestry.com gets people’s DNA, and AI home systems such as Alexa and Google Home have prompted concerns about their ability to listen in on conversations all the time.
Relationships in particular are suffering from this loss of trust in the digital age. People are often reluctant to join dating websites for fear of being ‘catfished’ and the contents of a person’s DMs (direct messages) cause many arguments between couples.
But it goes both ways. It could equally be argued that the digital age has increased our trust in many things. We actively make the choice to trust these sites and devices by engaging with them, suggesting some level of confidence. Blue ticks or verification marks assure us that certain accounts aren’t fakes and the ability to do quick background checks on people means we willingly get in the car with strangers working for services like UBER and LYFT.
Perhaps the irony of all this is that the less trust we’re inclined to have in the digital age is the more trust we actually need to have. We have to trust that though so much of our information is out there it is being safeguarded by new protection technology. We have to trust in verification processes, and trust in the good old-fashioned instinctual human ability to gage for ourselves what is and isn’t safe.