The consequences of a low-trust society

ben

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I came across this today via Twitter.

While it’s talking about online culture, it occurred to me that it almost perfectly encapsulates the problems with this country.

The Internet Has Made Dupes—and Cynics—of Us All

Some salient excerpts (emphasis mine):

At some point, the typical response to this onslaught of falsehood is to say, lol, nothing matters. But when so many of us are reaching this point, it really does matter. Social scientists distinguish high-trust societies (ones where you can expect most interactions to work) from low-trust societies (ones where you have to be on your guard at all times). People break rules in high-trust societies, of course, but laws, regulations, and norms help to keep most abuses in check; if you have to go to court, you expect a reasonable process. In low-trust societies, you never know. You expect to be cheated, often without recourse. You expect things not to be what they seem and for promises to be broken, and you don’t expect a reasonable and transparent process for recourse. It’s harder for markets to function and economies to develop in low-trust societies. It’s harder to find or extend credit, and it’s risky to pay in advance.

The internet is increasingly a low-trust society—one where an assumption of pervasive fraud is simply built into the way many things function.
A bit further on:

People do adapt to low-trust societies, of course. Word-of-mouth recommendations from familiar sources become more important. Doing business with family and local networks starts taking precedence, as reciprocal, lifelong bonds bring a measure of predictability. Mafia-like organizations also spring up, imposing a kind of accountability at a brutal cost.
 

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mmoon

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I couldn't agree more, particularly when describing the core of what causes so many of the problems in Argentina. Everyone expects they are going to be screwed over by others, unless they are in their core group. Therefore, screwing people over themselves seems justified.
 
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