Trust Covers Fear

Like in the rock-paper-scissors game, there are three positive attitudes that can conquer three common negative ones. Just as paper covers rock, the positive attitudes are capable of destroying the negative. I thought I’m calling the 3 negative ones the terrestrial trio and the three positive ones the celestial triad.

So, Fear is the first in terrestrial trio and it can be covered by the celestial triad principle of Trust.

Fear is a basic human reaction to danger. It keeps us safe and it is very sensitive… You don’t want the rustling brush to be hiding a saber-tooth tiger. So, to play it safe, humans are really good at finding things to fear. Saber-tooth tiger crouching

Unfortunately, that biological machinery is way more powerful than people need in the modern world. Everyone can imagine the worst really easily. They give that fear a reality and power that the cynical and powerful can use to control the fearful.

People in recovery say that fear is a lack of faith.

One aspect of faith is trust. You trust that God and your companions will care for you. You treat your neighbor as you would like to be treated. In doing that, you trust that they will be reasonable. You recognize the ways that people are similar more than you notice how they are different.

When you are afraid of someone, you inherently don’t trust them. But trust is an essential part of society. Without trust, the mechanics of a society break down.

To look at the civil rights movement, it wasn’t just Rosa Parks resisting segregation on that bus. It was a whole host of uncelebrated people that worked together to make the Montgomery Bus Boycott work. The workers in that fight were organized. They had a strategy. They had specific goals. They trusted their cause and (especially) the others working with them.

When people go out to the streets to protest, they cannot change things in the ways that trust can accomplish. A group grounded in trust can help leader’s fears can fall to the side as they grow a shared trust.

Leaders that feel trust will compromise, work in the solution and develop creative answers. When you work with people that you trust, you can be organized and have a long-lasting impact.

So, getting back to the topic, with fear, you are separate and full of discord. The expression divide and conquer exists for a reason. When people act out of fear, they don’t have a base for cooperation and can be easily manipulated.

By using the spiritual principle of Trust instead of the untameable reaction of Fear, unity can develop. Fear can’t develop a way forward because it is looking back. Vision and insight that are rooted in trust can lead to change and success.

Original image: Saber-tooth tiger. By davlenjah [Image license]

[2016-07-15: edit and revision]

The Facebook Experience

I used to have a facebook account, but was very dissatisfied. I wasn’t comfortable with its addictive nature. Also, more often than not, I was self-conscious about adding information that didn’t fit social norms in times of stress.

It seemed that people preferred to submit clever graphics and people could leave the real “them” out. Just put up a facade–all is well. The last straw for me was when they suggested that I might be employed by a fellowship I belong to.

The reason the facebook topic came up with me again is that a course at IUPUI that I was thinking of taking included facebook postings as part of the coursework. I didn’t really want to get an account again. Hence the conflict.


Dr. BJ Fogg at Stanford University has studied persuasive technology. He calls it captology. His definition of persuasive is slightly different than the natural one. Persuasive means to cause a desired behavior. It isn’t about the cognitive persuasion to think about an issue a certain way. In his method, you pick a behavior you want to increase, make it easy to do and then prompt the behavior. The behaviors can be tiny such as to click a “Like” button or complex and have you to log in and update your content.

Facebook uses persuasive technology to increase income for the company. The users of facebook need to encourage people to advertise there. “Like” is a simple behavior. It seems to indicate that you’re engaged with a vendor’s products and services. On Veritasium, suggests that a “like” may not be what it seems.

The part where I get uncomfortable is that facebook has covert information that it can use to manipulate the interaction. People think of the website interacting solely with them, but with billions of users, facebook knows how people act in aggregate and can notice how to make a change with a tiny impact but is statistically significant. By combining these impacts, they can be manipulative and do it without being detected. They can manipulate the users and they can manipulate the advertisers.

One can’t be naive and think that facebook does things are solely for the benefit of its users. When one starts a post and then erases it, facebook’s software can notice. Since they know when this happens, they can find ways to encourage people add content more freely. They also target what you see to what they know you are more likely to attend to and not what you might value.

They knew that many of my friends belonged to a fellowship, so it was natural to blindly propose, to me who hadn’t listed an employer, that I might be employed in the same place.

With facebook they are capable of knowing more about you than you can imagine. They use that to make their shareholder’s wealthy. When I see an ad on YouTube, I know it is an advertisement. I can ignore it if I want. If you’re being persuaded to participate in advertising without knowing that you are being marketed to, that’s where the facebook experience is letting the smoke and mirrors conceal the real interaction. In “Captology and the Friendly Art of Persuasion” by Lynn Griener (*) comments “Advertisers may, for example, be able to get away with sneaky and intrusive tactics” and that “facebook must play it straight.” However, with huge data resources and insatiable stockholders, facebook’s straight can be pretty crooked.

(*) Greiner, Lynn. “Captology and the Friendly Art of Persuasion,” NetWorker, Fall 2009. doi: 10.1145/1600303.1600306