OK, I know it’s been a while since I sat down and put some thoughts on paper…One of my New Year’s resolutions it to do a better job. Frankly, for me, writing these articles is a way to organize my thoughts and to vent (but not too much). And it seems that of late one risks a great deal by exposing one’s thoughts to the universe of tweet-ers, facebook-ers, linked In-ers, and web lurkers, given the apparent lack of tolerance for anything but the most extreme views. There. I feel better.
On to “Who do you trust?” I think it’s a good time to consider this question, especially in light of the “fake” news craze, endless exposure to unverified “Breaking News”, and a Congress seemingly motived by party politics and reelection fever over trust. I admit that’s harsh, but I’m pretty sure when you make a list of who you trust, your representatives on the Hill won’t be on it. I really don’t know what to think when I hear our elected representatives constantly using the most extreme superlatives, good or bad, when describing each bit of proposed legislation….It’s either “the most devastating blow to the middle class since the Great Depression” or “historic legislation which will restore the American Dream.” Really? Can it be that bad or that good? I don’t think so and hence, I don’t trust what is being said.
I’m thinking this will be a two-parter….There’s too much to cover in one article, so I will focus on who/what I don’t trust and why in this article. Tomorrow, I will follow up with who I do trust and why.
First, I encourage you to make your own list of whom you trust and don’t trust. After you’ve done that write down some reasons why people appear on each list. Here’s my list:
Airline Flight Status. Airlines always recommend you check with them before heading to the airport….I’ve yet to check on a flight that still three hours away that says anything but “On Time.” I’m talking about normal operations, no big storms or computer meltdowns in the offing….just an everyday trip to the airport. So I bop on over to the airport, go through security, check again on flight status (On Time) and head on over to the gate. I’ve got a nifty app on my phone that lets me see where the airplane is coming from so I can check on it….Lo and behold, my airplane is 30 minutes behind schedule ….but at my gate it still says “On Time.” If I ask the gate agent, usually I get a “nothing is showing on my system” reply. Eventually, they have to come clean and the announcement is made that there’s a delay. Now they post a new departure time, usually wildly optimistic, that they have no hope of making….I’d much rather they use technology and post actual status….6 minutes late, or 15 minutes early. By the way, ever had a delay because the aircrew was late arriving from another flight? The airlines know that way ahead of time. Why don’t they put a status up that reflects that? I don’t trust ‘em.
Network News. Ever listen to the Today show? It always starts off with one of the personalities saying, “BREAKING NEWS!!! Blah blah blah”. Gosh, it must be important one would think…But turns out it’s not “Breaking” at all….and it has only a 50% chance of actually being something important. Why must everything be sensational? I just want the news, and if nothing big happened today, well I’m OK with that. My other problem with network news is that they, too, have become slaves to the extremes. I actually can shape the news I get by choosing which channel to listen to, left or right. Not sure I know of a middle-of-the-road channel, so I really have to watch several channels to get some sort of balance. I wind up only watching the sports news, because it’s usually accurate…..Army beats Navy, Redskins lose, etc. They just haven’t figured out how to fiddle with the scores yet. (Although I will say that they have figured out a way to tweak election results so sports score tweaking may not be that far behind). Imagine channel surfing between sports shows to find the scores that you like. “Hey, Navy beat Army on Channel 4!”
Weather Reports. Apparently actual temperatures are not very news worthy, so weather guessers have invented wind chills and heat factors. It’s not so interesting to say it’s going to be 15 degrees tonight. Instead, why not say, “We are going to have serious, life threatening wind chills of minus 5 tonight somewhere is our listening area. Stay tuned as this story develops.” Huh? Why say “There’s a chance of snow tomorrow” when you can say “I can’t rule out the possibility of over 12 inches of snow and blizzard conditions similar to Antarctica will be here tomorrow because the Manchurian model says so.” And why are we naming storms which we used to label northeasters except to make them seem as serious as a hurricane so the viewers will “stay tuned”? Since when has a cold spell become a “Bomb?” Everything the weather reporters say always emphasize the extremes. I’m interested in their best guess about what’s likely to happen, not their speculations on how bad it might be. They seem to be just opposite.
Congress. It’s all about the extremes over there too. Apparently, nothing can be solved by compromise, so they have invented ways to ensure the extremes always win (or lose). I get a kick watching coverage over there. It’s always the leadership slinging superlatives right and left while surrounded by 5 or 6 colleagues looking concerned. I would feel like such a dope standing in the background, nodding my head and furrowing my brow while having absolutely nothing to say. I always wonder what the stand-arounds are thinking. “Do I look concerned enough?” “I wonder if they are having meatballs in the cafeteria today?” “I hope they see me standing here back in the District.” Who knows what they are thinking?
The Internet. Anyone can say anything and it’s all recorded, attributable, unrecallable. Who thinks hitting the “Recall Message” button works? All it really does is highlight a message so that I want to see what was recalled and try to figure out why. By the way, as far as email goes, you don’t even have to send it….It’s still there lurking in the drafts folder just as if you hit the “Send” button. It’s only one fat finger away from being accidently sent. Heck, Amazon knows what you are going to buy before you buy it and they pre-position your future purchase so you can get it quicker. We are not that far away from having your thoughts zipping through cyberspace. (By the way, I do trust Amazon to deliver something when they say they will. Don’t you?)
Factors of non-Trust
I guess I’ve said enough to get me in trouble, but before I leave the subject of non-trust, I thought it might be interesting to think about why things/people show up on the non-trust list. I’m also interested in what’s on your list.
- History of being wrong. I guess this one is obvious, but worth a comment. If you tell me something and it was wrong, I’m probably less likely to trust what you say in the future. It helps if you come to me and admit you were wrong and to express a desire to be more accurate in the future. There are plenty of reasons to be wrong, so fess up! Just remember, I tend to trust people who have a track record of being right. The weather is usually never as bad as the worst-case scenario pushed by the TV forecaster, so I tend to take what they say with a grain of salt. By the way, I woke up this morning with a white driveway, yet there was no mention of any precipitation for the next 24 hours.
- Shifting reality. I don’t trust people or things that seem to change based on convenience, personal benefit, discovery of the truth, or crowd-think. Airlines know that flights aren’t “on Time” usually well in advance. Why not say so when they know? Sure, they eventually are truthful, but only after they have no other option but to be truthful. People are sorry after they get caught…..not while they are doing illegal or hurtful things.
- Inward focused. When people are self-focused, saying and doing what’s best for them, not for others, I don’t trust them. One can usually tell when the “What’s in it for me?” rule is in effect and I find it hard to trust someone who hasn’t at least considered the consequences of their actions on me and others.
- Agenda over truthfulness. If I sense that someone is more focused on their own agenda at the expense of being truthful, then I don’t trust them. They frequently are unresponsive to facts, seeking alternate facts (Whatever that means). This results in a situation where the opinion of others is seldom valued or even considered. I don’t trust people who develop solutions that haven’t considered all perspectives. I don’t think that many who seek our trust are intentionally un-truthful. They may “think” they are being truthful, but because they are so focused on their agenda, they have conveniently overlooked facts which don’t contribute to their version of the truth. Remember, one can tell the truth without being truthful.
- Violation of Trust. When you have trusted someone who then wrongly takes advantage of your trust, it will be difficult to ever trust them again. This is the most important factor I consider when determining who to trust. Have they ever violated my or someone else’s trust? If so, they wind up at the top of my “Do not Trust” List.
It’s useful to spend some time to think about trust and who you do and don’t trust. More importantly, thinking about why people wind up on one of those lists will serve you well when a new person pops up. What list do you put them on? Is it possible to change lists? Probably the most important outcome of this little drill is to think about where you fall on other peoples’ lists. This article was about a list you don’t want to be on and the things which will put you there. We all want to be trusted, but we must earn that trust by our actions. Next time, how to be on the “Trusted” list.