Saturday, April 30, 2011

Trusting people

What makes us trust people?

When it comes to people we've known for a while, the answer's a bit easier - we've gone through some things together, we observe their qualities and faults, can more or less predict how they'll react in a certain situation, we might try judging them based on previous experiences.

But how about strangers? 

Whenever I tell people I travel alone, they ask me if I'm not scared (I guess everyone travelling alone gets asked that).
Whenever I tell people I stay over at strangers' homes, they look at me startled and ask if it's not dangerous (I guess many CSers/HCers get asked that).
And, surprisingly enough, the answer to both of the questions is no. A very strong no, without the slightest hesitation.

Why though? No idea. Maybe I'm that naive, maybe I think that it's normal, maybe it's because I've never gotten hurt. Or just maybe, it's because I believe people are good and they mean me (or others) no harm.
(Although someone's recently told me 'But you have no idea what they're doing when you're sleeping' and it got me wondering for the shortest of moments)

And looking at it from the point of view of a host - you invite a completely unknown person into your house, allow them to invade your home, your personal sanctuary for a while. You trust them with your own safety, as well as with all the things you own. I've had people give me keys to their houses within half an hour of meeting one another. What makes them trust me, not fear that I'll steal from them or go through their things when they're not around?

With sites like CS or HC, we do kinda feel reassured by reading the 'reference' section on each member's profile. The thing is that they're not as reliable as they should be, though - there's loads of sugar coating on one hand, sometimes you decide not to write anything bad even if the experience hasn't been completely positive on the other (I know, I've been there). Totally trustworthy or not, members' profiles still provide us with some kind of feedback and an overview of their past interactions with other people.

But how about meeting someone in a club (not THAT kind of meeting you perves! not talking about a ONS) and inviting them over to your family house for a while? 'Cause that's how I've ended up going to stay with E's family.
We met one night thru a mutual friend and 15 minutes into the acquaintance E'd already invited me to head home with her for a couple of days ('Where are you going next?' 'Not sure yet' 'I'm going to Cadiz for the weekend, come stay with my family!'). To say I was amazed would be an understatement.
Yes, E's an open and generous person, but that's still a rather quick invitation.

Now that I think of it, it might also have to do with the definition of a friend. 
To me, a friend has always been a person I knew I could trust, someone I've known for a while, someone who's 'proven' themselves in one way or another, who's been there for me (and vice versa of course).
But C has shown me a completely different approach - "Everyone's my friend, until they prove me wrong." 
Going by that one, trusting strangers isn't so surprising anymore.

What makes you trust a certain person?

Normally I don't even stop and think 'Do I trust them?', it comes naturally. However, there was one day in Spain when I not so much wondered if it was smart to trust my host or not, but when I couldn't help but wonder about the normality and abnormality of certain situations I find myself in while travelling. That in turn got me thinking about trust in general.

Let me paint the picture for ya - already from the profile of my host I could see it would be an interesting encounter. We met at the bus station and went to a beach (a nudist beach as the host was one) to chill a bit and eat lunch. After a couple of hours we decided to go home. I was packing my things into the car when I heard the host peeing in front of it. Suddenly it hit me - I'm in the middle of nowhere on the coast of Spain and a naked 50 year old guy whom I've met 3 hours ago and at whose place I'm going to spend the night is peeing 2 meters away from me. And so I started laughing to myself in order not to go about analyzing my mental health, or the lack of it.
Isn’t trusting people a wonderful thing? ;)

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