Offline, Online Friends and Trust.

Today I stumbled on this post, where we find out that we don’t trust much our online friends.

It’s just a survey and I think it should be taken with a grain of salt. I’ve seen similar surveys on trust and the digital world before.

Why would we be surprised? Though to me, you can trust your online friends as much as your offline friends…IF and ONLY IF we talk about the same kind of friends.

For one, the whole social media/network frenzy has most of the time transformed into a race for quantity vs quality (i.e: #twitter followers, #connexion on linkedin). That’s quite normal given the mass, the sum of all of us minus each of us ;-), needs some kind of simplistic criteria to evaluate our goodness. In the real worls, it’s the car you ride, where you live, the kind of job you have. In the online world it’s the number of friends or connections. The more you have the better.

For two, social media enables us to have friends, without having gone through the long and time consuming process to become friends. Try to think about your offline friends and your online friends. I’m sure you’ll find out that the first ones took months to exists (as friends) vs the other one may be hours.

Bottom line, trust is based on quality and takes time to create and nurture.
You can’t have a trustful relationship with a large quantity of people.
I don’t know where the bar is, 20, 50 or 100. Intuitively, I would say between 20 and 50 max.
So may be you have hundreds of online friends but really you have much less than that. And those are the one you communicate with on a regular basis, you know them, they know you and trust is in between.

I think such surveys can be easily misinterpreted because the concept of friends in this comparison isn’t the same.

In summary, affinity creates relationship which then creates trust. Online friends starts and most often stops at the affinity stage.

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