I’d like to draw your attention to an odd phenomenon. How many times have you been in a coffee shop, or a library, or some other public place, needed to step out for a moment, and asked a complete stranger to watch your things? Or had a complete stranger ask you to watch theirs? I’ve been on both sides plenty of times before, but it’s just happened to me now and it’s reminded me how enduringly weird this is.

When we do this, it’s laptops, bags, phones, wallets that we’re entrusting to one another, on little further credit than we’re sitting nearby. Weird. We live in a society where we’re not supposed to trust one another. Blind trust is folly. What is it about that personalized directive, “Will you watch my stuff?” that makes us comfortable when a store full of witnesses will not?

I’m sure it’s that singularity, that bestowing of trust on one sole individual, which makes us feel secure when there’s really no logical reason we should. But I don’t know why. Help me out. Psychologically, sociologically, anthropologically, why are we ok with this?

I’m serious. Tell me why in the comments. Let’s discuss it.

Advertisements