Trust Me, I’m A Stranger

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Mankind is illogical. Some things have been drilled into our minds since we were little, so that typing them feels as redundant as pointing out that you need food to survive: never meet up with a stranger, never let a stranger into your house, don’t get into a stranger’s cars, don’t sleep in a stranger’s house… we are taught to fear the unknown, which given all the stories you hear on the media is only natural. To take a chance on the unknown, it takes a force to pull you over the gap, and that miraculous force is trust. As we’ve seen with start-up giants – AirBnb, Uber and even Tinder – technology is revolutionising the social glue of society and changing the way we interact with one another. BlaBlaCar, a company that matches drivers and passengers to share long journeys, uses social profiles to connect people together. It is an elegant illustration of how technology is enabling millions of people across the world to take a leap of trust.

The same goes for other growing businesses. For instance, when you Deliveroo a Cheeky Nandos, do you ever think to yourself: who is the guy bringing me my food? Is he to be trusted? Phh… why would you? As soon as the smell of that peri-peri chicken with spicy rice hits the front door, your mind is only set on one thing – and it’s not the identity of the driver.

The trust we openly give to strangers is helping our world develop. Trust is what many believe to be the key to Airbnb and Uber’s success. During her TED talk in June on trust, Rachel Botsman, an author and visiting academic at the University of Oxford, talked about the importance of reviews and ratings in improving the behaviour of both consumers and producers. She used a comparison between her stay in a hotel and an Airbnb to emphasise the role of trust in the world today. Rachel began by telling the audience that when she stays in a hotel, she doesn’t always bother to hang up her towels or clear up after herself, but she would always do this a guest at an Airbnb. She went on to explain that this owes in part to her desire to maintain a positive online rating; after all, a bad reputation on Airbnb would inevitably affect her ability to rent in the future. This example demonstrates the clear impact trust has on the way we act and how we behave.

The online stranger is no longer the online stranger.”

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It all boils down to one simple, unavoidable reality: The world is evolving – the way we behaved twenty years ago is not only changing but developing for the better. 500,000 people stay in an Airbnb every night, 5 million people take an Uber that same day: the online stranger is no longer the online stranger. These online companies are made to ease our lives both financially and practically in an incomparable fashion.

To take advantage of the ever-growing online world, we must trust the person whose couch we’re crashing on.”

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Every time we cross the road, we are to an extent putting faith in the fact that a drunk-driver will not speed around the corner. To take advantage of the ever-growing online world, we must similarly trust the person who’s couch we’re crashing on. Times are changing – it’s time you do too. Take a leap of trust today.

For further reading, read Chaz’s discussion of trust as a digital currency.

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