Robin Trimingham

Is influence prized above trust?

  • Modern world: Robin Trimingham asks whether we are living in a time when online influence is prized above trust

Today I have a simple question for you: Are you trusted? I imagine that many of you quickly answered “yes”, without giving the matter much thought. Note here, though, that I didn’t ask whether you are “trustworthy”, I asked whether you are “trusted”; there is an ocean of difference between the two.

To be trustworthy is a hypothetical designation based on a mixture of opinion and personal experience, making it a subjective appraisal of character. To be “trusted”, however, is a designation that is earned or conferred based on actual performance. Most often, you can only become “trusted” after you have proven yourself to be trustworthy.

Now let me ask the question again.

Are you trusted and if so, to what extent are you trusted?

“What on earth do you mean?”

Glad you asked.

Once upon a time, a man’s word was his bond. Is that still the case in the age of internet or are we living in a time when “influence” is prized above trust?

I don’t know about you, but I have yet to find a YouTube channel or a Facebook page which displayed the number of people who trusted the owner of the page next to the number of followers. What would happen if this new statistic was a prerequisite? How would that change online broadcasting?

Hmm … social media influencer: two million followers, currently trusted by nine people, none of whom actually know the influencer personally. Yup, that would quickly alter who was the most influential and what sort of content went viral.

Time was that a fledgeling bricks-and-mortar company would move heaven and earth to be awarded a Good Housekeeping seal of approval or a Better Business Bureau accreditation. Obtaining one of these designations verified for consumers that your product, service, or business observed ethical standards or policies and was worthy of consumer trust (as it does to this day).

Maybe it’s time everyone broadcasting over the internet was held to a similar standard.

I mean, if you claim to live in your car full-time, let a team of experts verify that it isn’t actually parked in mummy’s driveway six days a week, where you pop in for showers and hot meals twice a day.

If you claim to live off-grid, let’s make sure that you aren’t actually powering a mini-fridge by means of a 200-foot extension cord running into your kitchen from the neighbours.

If you claim to be living a life of luxury and telling everyone else that they can too if they work hard enough, let’s verify that you aren’t hiding $60,000 in credit card debt.

Scary as it would be for some of us to admit that we are ordinary people with ordinary lives and normal, everyday problems, at least we would be truthful and trustable. And you know what they say … the truth will set you free.

Robin Trimingham is an author and thought leader in the field of retirement who specialises in helping corporate groups and individuals understand and prepare for a new life beyond work. Contact her at olderhoodgroup.com, 538-8937 or robin@olderhood.com