What’s happened to trusting people around us?

Remember a time when you could trust your neighbour to look after your house? When children played in the streets

Remember a time when you could trust your neighbour to look after your house?

When children played in the streets until the street lights came on, and you took people for their word.

When you weren’t suspicious of people’s motives or worried about someone ripping you off.

It seems like those days are long gone.

Nowadays it seems like we’re always waiting for people to break our trust.

I know that I have trouble trusting people.

It makes me wonder, when did we stop trusting the people around us and why?

Turning on the evening news or flicking through social media shows us countless examples of why we shouldn’t trust people.

Think about some of the cases that have made the news — the tragedies and injustices in the world.

The death of Mason Lee and the abduction and murder of Daniel Morcombe have taught us we can’t trust other people around our children.

The rape and murder of Jill Meagher, the endless phone and internet scams – they all seem to be making us more and more wary of the people around us.

In his book The Leap, author Ulrich Boser writes that we’re not supposed to trust others.

“Look at the headlines. Read the blogs. Study the survey data,” he writes.

“It seems that everyone is wary, that everyone is looking out for themselves.”

Have we taken our trust issues as a society too far?

How many of us have family and friends that we wouldn’t trust?

In a world where affairs and divorce are on the world, we’re taught to be suspicious in our relationships.

We’re suspicious of family, particularly when it comes to money.

And we can be suspicious of the motives of our friends.

Read more: Why do so many people die at the hands of someone they trust?

It’s not just the people immediately around us that we don’t trust.

We’ve lost trust in our politicians and leaders, and the professionals around us.

Trust in politicians has shrunk against those of us over 50.

A recent survey, published in the Sydney Morning Herald, found trust in politicians has hit a 20-year low.

Almost a quarter of older Australians had no trust in politicians, while just 5% said they trusted politicians “very much”.

Studies of our most trusted professions also have found us trusting professionals less and less, particular sales people.

Read more: Australia’s most (and least) trusted professions

So is everyone really out to lie, cheat and swindle us?

Think about the saying if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

With all the bad things happening in the world, we tell our kids and grandkids not to speak to strangers and wrap them in cotton wool in case they hurt themselves or others.

Could it be that we’re teaching our children and grandchildren to trust each other less?

A survey of Millenials – those born from the mid-90’s onwards – shows just 19% believe most people can be trusted.

Those of us from the Baby Boomers and Silent Generation on the other hand were most trusting, with 40% and 37% believing most people are trustworthy.

While those numbers seem okay, they’ve fallen from nearly 50% 30 years ago.

You might be thinking, how can we trust people more without getting burnt?

Boser writes that trust can’t be forced.

“When it comes to trust, building faith in friends and family is often relatively easy,” he says.

“What’s harder — and, frankly, far more important — is building faith in people outside of your group.”

Next time someone says trust me, have a think about why it is you might not trust them and how you could change that.

Some people might be pleasantly surprising.

Have you found yourself struggling to trust people? Do you think we’re losing our ability to trust as a society?

  1. Dawn Jess  

    personally I still have alot of trust in family my friends neighbours and community, but government no and yes I do think we have been conditioned in modern times to distrust and teach our young to distrust which is a shame

  2. Frank  

    crimes rates are lower but awareness is higher thanks to instant internet flashing rare events – small child murdered – around the world so parents instantly fear for their own

    my experience moving from Brisbane where I knew everyone (boring) to Melbourne (bigger city) – was feeling ‘these people are so cold and unfriendly’ – until one day I was lost and asked an unfriendly looking man in a suit – he instantly turned to me with a smile and warmly not only explained but walked me to my destination – totally friendly – I was totally surprised

    so – I read a lesson older people could learn from backpackers – most people can be trusted – they are just waiting for the opportunity to help

    in fact teaching children to avoid all contact with strangers can actually make them more susceptible to bad people as they have no experience of recognising and dealing with them – when I was a small kid loose on the streets all day, we’d tell each other ‘watch out for the boogeyman on that corner’ (maybe a homeless alcoholic) – and if we saw him, we’d run like hell while he shouted after us !

    so – if you trust nobody and spend your life avoiding ‘risk’ – you are likely to fall at the first hurdle of dealing with strangers, e.g. last night’s TV of old pensioners ripped off $200,000 – their life savings by a scam artist plumber – you know the usual ‘I trusted that nice man in a suit – how come he took all my money ?’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *