Trust in online dating

Take this 1998 evaluation of trust in the virtual corporation, by Jones and Bowie : The social relationships provided by the virtual corporation are not physically or psychologically proximate enough to conclude that individual members are “embedded in a web of social relations” as required by sociological explanations for the development of trust.

Although stories of electronic relationships developing on the “web” are increasingly common, these relationships are often enough based on deceit that most people do not regard them as a sufficient basis for meaningful trust.

Most crucially, we can be explicit about the stakes of online trust, going beyond the occasional headline about a cyberbullying victim, and instead exposing the day-to-day emotional and professional vulnerability inherent in sharing intimacies online.

When we post on a forum of fellow medical patients, we can explicitly note the sense of anxiety that comes from discussing health information online, invoking expectations of trust and confidentiality.

We invest ourselves in a particular community or conversation—perhaps engaging in a high degree of disclosure —and then move onto the next.

I’ve spilled my guts in communities of feminist scholars, new mothers, and homeschoolers…only to move on to new interests and communities, leaving my once-trusted comrades behind.

Certainly the relationships most conducive to trust based on embeddedness will not develop easily in the virtual corporation.

Online trust is not only less tangible than offline trust, it’s also less durable.

And while social media users scan the latest headlines, wondering which new stories are actually fake, sociologists and political scientists debate whether the Internet can support the kind of trust necessary for real political and community engagement.Yet the very idea of online trust can feel like an oxymoron, particularly when we compare it to what offline trust can look like.That’s what’s struck me as I watched Odysseo, a horse and acrobatics show put on by the circus company Cavalia.Indeed, Formaux places the evolving treatment of risk at the centre of the different between a traditional circus and the new generation of circus (of which Cavalia is a part).Whereas performers in a traditional circus were responsible for their own gear and rigging, many of today’s circuses have professionalized the setup of working conditions—which, while arguably improving safety, also mean that the performer must place even more trust in others.

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But for the most part, when we talk about trusting one another online, we’re talking about emotional vulnerability, financial risk, or perhaps, professional exposure.

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