Yet, this issue has been brewing for a long time. For years, we've had "phishing" spam Emails. Commercial messages (advertising) have been increasingly disingenuous, saying "we care about you" when clearly they often do not. It's not actually a scam, but we have slowly trained our minds to live in a disconnect when a big bank posts smiling happy people doing banking with them, when we all know banking is a drag. All the fees, charges, etc., are in place to make sure they make money and if you don't, too bad. They don't really care and we know it. So the smiling faces are a lie, but we still see them everywhere.
As we've increasingly used the internet to shop, communicate, etc., we're often not dealing with businesses and people face to face anymore. Typewritten words can easily hide identity. Even a telephone call offers some idea of who is calling, by voice quality. So, we've substituted account names, passwords, hints, etc., in an attempt to verify identity. When you walked into a shop in the old days, and an employee who had been there for years saw you, they might have said, "Oh, hi, Ms. Peterson!" because you are instantly recognizable. No need for a password or authorization sequence.
Now we are using networks to connect with each other over long distances. We are finding it hard to verify facts and who is spreading stories. With over 7 billion people on the planet and the speed of information exchange constantly increasing, we have less and less time to verify the validity of the messages that reach us.
This lack of trust on the national and world level may force more reliance on close personal relationships - within local travel distances, in the long run. After all, face to face communication ultimately depends on geography - I can see you in person if you live close by. There are 'facetime' style videophone conversations and YouTube video recordings, so perhaps we will need to rely more on them. Of course, not everyone has access to a connection with high enough bandwidth. The written word is faster, cheaper, and yet more anonymous and more likely to be 'hacked.' Does that mean that those too poor to afford high speed service will have to rely on text which is harder to trust?
If food quality from far off lands is tainted (massive recalls of beef, spinach, etc.), then reliance on locally produced food becomes ever more important, right? If I know the farmer (or rancher) in person, then are we more likely to trust the quality of what we're eating?
Here's where I'm going with all this: The result is a push from centralization to decentralization, from big to small, from foreign to local, from uniform to diverse, from control to acceptance. In other words, perhaps we're headed toward a peak of information glut and reliance on distant sources of resources. Perhaps we are being urged to live closer to the land we physically occupy, to notice our physical bodies and rebalance our energy from being focused in our heads so much. Perhaps we will become more familiar with each other on a personal or even a touch level. Meanwhile, how do we share information that used to be carried by books, newspapers, etc.? How much of what was in the books and newspapers in the past was reliable in the first place? Perhaps our sense of trust was misplaced and now we are coming to realize how unreliable information sources that we took for granted can be.
How will we use networks to learn from each other if we can't trust the content they carry? Will we have to abandon the internet because we can't trust what we read or see on it? Will conspiracy theories replace knowledge because fearful people will try to regain a sense of control through blame of unseen secret forces? Will cynicism and depression become more rampant as some people give up on trying to find ways to trust?
Somehow, we are going to have to address how to trust. And probably sooner than we might like. After all, the erosion of trust has suddenly become a very big question.