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Friday, April 17, 2015

Trust? Trusting the Internet Collective over Individuals and Institutions

A new generation of people have been raised in an environment where the fundamentals of trust
between individuals and institutions are breaking down. Despite this downward trend people seem to trust the collective opinions of others on the Internet and use this information to make personal choices in their lives. The trust factor may be eroding but it isn't too late for people to consider its what this means for business and society.

A general survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago and analyzed in the Washington Post offers some interesting data on whether people can be trusted (Badger, 2015).  Since 1979 the idea of  "You Can't be Too Careful" has move from approximately 49% to around 68% while the idea of "Most People Can be Trusted" moved from approximately 45% to approximately 30%.

People trust other people  and institutions less than they did in the past. They are skeptical of the motives of others and don't believe that people act in manners that are beneficial to others. A type of selfish skepticism makes its way into the 18-24 year old population that reflects the reality of their lives and how they view the world. For them...everything is in transition.

It is hard to blame them. Considering the partisan nature of politics, scandals in the VA, the rise of identity theft,  broken homes , inability to rise through the ranks, aggressive police, poor government policies and cost of living the young Generation Y is feeling what has been a natural part of the lives of Generation X. They are only recently seeing a world where recession doesn't sit over their futures like a dark cloud hampering their hopes for the future.

This doesn't mean that they don't trust anyone. They have embraced technology, Internet, and their own value systems as a default method of navigating their lives. They trust the collective response of people who use products, rate them, and leave comments. They diligently scan over forums and purchasing outlets like Amazon to determine if their next purchase will be worthwhile.

For example, a person looking for a restaurant to eat at may search online for their particular taste. They could look for spicy Thia, seafood, etc... within a 5 mile radius of their home. Furthermore, they can see the price, menu, comments, and overall ranking of the establishment. The next click on their search criteria could include a cross reference of locality and ranking.

It makes sense doesn't it? You want something to eat or buy a product so you tern to product review. You have certain criteria and search out that criteria based upon the tens, hundreds, or thousands of people who had something to say about it. If you are going to eat somewhere or buy a product then it make sense to do that to the ones that are ranked highly.

 For society this means that trust in not a given and must be earned. People will rate and rank the services based upon their personal experience and this will impact how many people will use that service in the future. As people offer their collective input they will naturally be able to improve, break, or discard services.  It doesn't make much difference if it is a company, product, or a government office as opinions have a way of self-confirming.

As the world globalizes the product and service evaluations could be from anywhere. The opinions and how people evaluate products/services can be from any locality in the world and will form a collective international identity. The more people act and interact with other from around the world the more likely they will share similarities of perspective. Companies will not only need to look at their products from a local perspective but also an international perspective.

Businesses and institutions will need to concern themselves with these ranking systems and make amends to service failures. There have been numerous instances of conflicts between companies and customers based upon these rankings. Ultimately, it will be the collective impression of the masses that win out. Companies will need to improve upon their offerings and create greater competitiveness in their ranks to woo over the masses.

Badger, E. (April 16, 2015). Who millennials trust, and don’t trust, is driving the new economy. Washington Post. Retrieved http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/04/16/who-millennials-trust-and-dont-trust-is-driving-the-new-economy/

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