Trust On The Internet

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Who is who?

When dealing with people on the internet it is very difficult to judge who is genuine and who is not. Unless you are connecting with family and friends the other interactions are more business related. Many of our social network interactions with people other than family and friends are about buying and selling and rarely because we want to make friends with them.

In this artificial setting we are vulnerable to predators and it is important that we remain vigilant. It is important to protect our reputation and remember that many of the people we interact with are telling us what we want to hear in order to get us to be interested in what they are selling. With this awareness we then agree to enter into relationships with our eyes wide open and seeing them for what they are and what what we imagine them to be.

In this article I want to explore the relationships we create on the internet and how reliable they are.

People can't read feelings, they read words.

When you communicate with someone on the internet you cannot see them unless of course a web cam is being used . In our daily lives when we communicate over the phone or even face to face misunderstandings can still occur.

Most of us are not telepathic so we cannot read each other's minds. We rely on very subtle cues to make judgements about what someone is telling us and most of these cues are absent when we communicate by e-mail. The problem is recognised by the people who have developed the technology and the little emoticons help to a certain degree.

The problem still remains and we must remind ourselves constantly when communicating by e-mail that the recipient of our communication cannot see our smiling or angry faces. In order to communicate more effectively we need to stop taking certain things for granted, the main thing being that people can read your feelings from what you write. They can't, unless you spell it out for them.

It doesn't take much to add an explanation of how you feel about what you are communicating in order to avoid misunderstanding and nurture better understanding.

Imagined communication is the cause of misunderstanding

If you don't explain how you feel then people will automatically jump to their own conclusions about the feelings you are trying to express. The reason for this is because we are always communicating on conscious and subconscious levels and without the cues we normally receive from a person standing in front of us when we speak we imagine what these cues are and subconsciously add them to the communication we read. Because we have imagined what the person was feeling when writing the communiqué we often get it wrong.


Wolves in sheep's clothing

Another problem is the number of people who use the anonymity of communicating over the internet to disguise themselves and their motivations for communicating with you.

People whose sole aim is to increase their number of followers will look for people who stand out from the crowd. They will look for people with good reputations and who have standing in their communities. When they find the people, they follow them believing that they will be automatically followed in turn. In HubPages I have also noticed that some people will comment on a hub in order to gain the attention they seek and once followed you never receive another comment. This kind communication is shallow and serves nobody.

Following is a commitment

To follow someone on HubPages is a commitment and takes time. This is the main reason why I choose very carefully who I follow and just because someone follows me does not result in me automatically following them back. If someone goes to the trouble of commenting on any of my hubs I will do them the courtesy of checking out a few of theirs to decide if what they have to say warrants my time and energy on a regular basis. If I like the writer's style and am interested in what the writer stands for then and only then do I follow.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

I believe some people get lazy behind a computer and their minds must play tricks on them making them believe that the people they communicate with cannot see behind these shallow antics.

If you treat people the way you would like them to treat you then the communication will always be meaningful and you will attract like minded people. I would hate people to follow me if they did not like what I wrote about or if they did not like what I stand for.

I regularly go through my list of hubbers I follow and make sure that my list only contains people whose work I look forward to reading. Anything that becomes a chore or a drudgery is just not worth doing. I think we betray ourselves to do otherwise.

Sometimes I am not notified when they publish a new hub and regularly checking this list ensures that I don't miss them.


The Special Ones

There are of course those people you come across who make a a very special impression. This is normal in our everyday life and there is no reason why it should not happen in your communication over the internet. I sometimes come across people whose energy captivates me and I want to know more about them. I love what they say, how they say it and what they stand for and I make it my business to know more about these people so I can better understand what they write. Now this can cause problems especially nowadays with so many unscrupulous people out there who use the anonymity of the internet to squirm their way into people's lives in order to manipulate for profit. When someone who is genuinely interested in you initiates communication outside of the usual comments at the end of a hub it is understandable that such communication can be viewed suspiciously. But there is a way to check how genuine a person is.

Use FaceBook to check credibility

I have found a way to alleviate people's fears about me by allowing them to share my world on FaceBook. If I have enough trust in and respect for someone I will add that person as a friend to check me out and satisfy themselves that I am who I say I am. This also affords me the opportunity to make sure that I in turn am communicating with someone genuine. I think this is a meaningful use for FaceBook and can't imagine how anyone can create a deception elaborate enough to fool anyone who uses it in this way to check credibility.

Keep it Real!

Your life on the internet like your life off it must be lived with awareness. You do yourself or anybody else no good by simply following the crowd and doing what everyone else does. What you think , say and do has an impact on the world so why not think about your communication in order to create a less complicated and happier environment for all?


E-mail hallucinations

The following video explains what I mean when I say we often get it wrong when we imagine what someone means by what they say in an e-mail. The video explains the pitfalls but also advantages in e-mail communication but only when used with awareness.  

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Comments 20 comments

CMCastro profile image

CMCastro 5 years ago from Baltimore,MD USA

Well done, Spirit Whisperer! I am backing you 100%! First let me inform you that your fingers were very quick with the querty- Internet in your title is misspelled. Only you can fix this ( the e and n are reversed). Anyway, I get completely what you are trying to convey here and lthough it may not impress the devious that try to spoil the right intentions of the writer, it should impress the intelligent reader who wants to gain from the knowledge that it is being shared. Hubpages is not a social networking tool. It is an intellectual spot where we can be creatively enhanced and induced into a more mature way of thinking. We can grow and learn from each other and be entertained with mental thought not yet existed. I am totally pleased when I read your hubs, and I look forward to writing for my hub readers, that is why I take long breaks between each one, because I want to put my heart into it.

I hope that everyone that reads your hub here and all the others you have written to get the point you are getting across. I appreciate every effort you have made to explain at your best the correct etiquette here on HubPages. I will do the same. Thanks for keeping up with me and I am encouraged by all your lovely comments. I also enjoy reading the hub writers you recommend as well. Thanks so much, And I look forward to reading you more. See you on HubPages. God Bless You!


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

I am so glad that you posted this! I had some questions and I think you have answered them. I will remember this and continue to think about it. HubPages is the first network that I have been on. It can be very confusing.

This is excellent! I really appreciated the hub and the video!

Thank you so much for the mention Doc! You are too much.


vietnamvet68 profile image

vietnamvet68 5 years ago from New York State

Interesting hub my friend, though I don't check people out I have managed to make some real friends on the internet. To me you just have to learn how to read between the lines to distinguish the truth from the BS. You have some very interesting points here. Thanks for the Info.

God Bless


diogenes profile image

diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

True, true and true! This excellent and timely article made me think deeply about my own contribution and genuine dedication. It is so true that communication by emails and such is lacking in body language, Sometimes it's even hard to write them when they lack the stimulus of to and fro conversation with a live body. It has seemed to me lately I am becoming a slave to HP: I have created a monster in following people as a result of their following me and my sense of responsibility and duty does not allow me to ignore them. So much so, that I am thinking - as many I am sure have thought - of chucking it in just to get a rest from what has started to feel like a never ending cocktail party without the drinks and with no end in sight.

So many words; so many ways: our lives are just too complicated and we have lost the plan...Bob


Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 5 years ago from Isle of Man Author

Thank you CM Castro. I am grateful to you for pointing out those typos. Nothing worse and I usually ask my wife to proof before I publish but she was fast asleep last night. I am very lucky to have found someone as genuine and I look forward to reading your hubs. Your good heart shines through your words in every hub. Thank you for your loyal support.


Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 5 years ago from Isle of Man Author

Thank yoy RealHousewife for your stopping by and I appreciate the comment. You have a heart of gold and everyone who reads your hubs loves what you have to say and your amazing energy uplifts your readers.I am sure I will not be the first person on HP to pay you the well deserved compliment of mentioning you in a hub. I am looking forward to your next publication.


Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 5 years ago from Isle of Man Author

Thank you vietnamvet68. I like what you stand for and your hubs are amazing. You come across as a person with a fiery temperament (and that is me now fantasising) but that just adds to what you write. I still think it is a dangerous practice to read between the lines because in my world that is still fantasising.


Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 5 years ago from Isle of Man Author

Thank you diogenes for being so open in your comment. I am very happy to have come across someone with your integrity. It is a pleasure to read hubs so well written, informative and interesting. If you never commented on anyone's hubs again you would still have a solid following because what you say is worthwhile and relevant and you don't need to stroke anyone else's ego to be as popular as you are. The fact that you do go out of your way to comment and support the people you follow is testament to your good character and reputation.


CreatePerfection profile image

CreatePerfection 5 years ago from Beautiful Colorado

SW, I always appreciate your common sense approach to the articles you write. It is true that there are a lot of people in the world whose intentions are not honorable and of course it is important to be aware. Thank you for this very thorough and insightful hub.

Best Wishes...


Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 5 years ago from Isle of Man Author

Thank you CP for your support and kind comment.


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

SW - you could be a motivational coach:). I am amazed at how well my writing has been received here. I appreciate your thoughts and value your opinion. Even through communication on hub is subjective, there are special people that make you grow and think about the real world. in any form this is good and a gift you have.

This hub - also shows how you are concerned about others not being too naive. How could anyone not see the importance of that. It's commendable - Kudos to you!


Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 5 years ago from Isle of Man Author

My son said that I should be a motivational coach and I replied to him that I am, with all the children who slip through the system and who everyone else has given up on. After retiring from full-time teaching to devote my life to my private practice the local school created a job for me to teach the children nobody else would or could. I have been doing for two hours every morning for the last 6 years before I begin work with my clients in the afternoon and that keeps it real for me.

Once again your comments are very flattering and my head size is increasing because of them haha.

You are very perceptive and I doubt anyone could ever pull a fast one on you especially after all that training you got from the Major. However there are people out there who are taken advantage of and I want them to be aware of these things. I think the guy in the video explains things very well don't you?


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Oh I do! I was hanging on every word. I think this is so important! I want to show it to my children who do have Facebook accounts. I regularly go through them, but I have to explain that just because you see a picture of a little girl, doesn't mean that it is!

I am also impressed with the work that you do with children. So important! It is an excellent way to stay real for sure. The world could use a few thousand more of you:). My comments aren't meant to be flattering it's just the truth as I see it. If it is flattering - you get a deserved bonus.

The Major - he was something else. Unique. I'm glad he was my step father, he made life fun!


FaithDream profile image

FaithDream 5 years ago from (Midwest) USA

Great article Spirit whisperer. I agree with your comments. Although trust is a learned trait. I found I am very cautious when it comes to the internet. I am honest when it comes to my writing and I try to live in integrity. However, I think in today's day you must use caution. There are many unscrupulous characters out there.

You've done a great job with this article.. Telling it like it is. nicely done.


Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 5 years ago from Isle of Man Author

Thank you FaithDream. I agree with you but we also cannot let a few rotten apples ruin it for the rest of us. I appreciate you visiting and your support.


Ashantina profile image

Ashantina 5 years ago

I agree Spirit Whisperer, phew and what a breath of fresh air!! You are creating a very effective filter [of trust] just because you are 'keeping it real'. I admire and love your honesty, authenticity and calibre.... like attracts like... and so these are the people you will attract.

Very much needed!!!! :)


Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 5 years ago from Isle of Man Author

This comment means a lot to me coming from someone I have grown to respect and admire. I like you shoot from the hip and we wear our hearts on our sleeve. There is nothing wrong with that. Thank you.


No_Clue profile image

No_Clue 5 years ago

Spirit Whisperer, this is a priceless hub that we all need to read and listen to. Rich with Truth and Wisdom, I will bookmark this one for many future refresher reads. Thank you!


Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 5 years ago from Isle of Man Author

No_Clue What a nice thing to say. I really appreciate your comment and your loyal support. Thank you.


Tweetmom profile image

Tweetmom 5 years ago from Newark

Amazing feedbacks you have here. Most people thinks that by leaving a comment is like guest blogging, where you will definitely get traffic when you comment on other hubs. But from the comment you can see if the hubbers is genuine or not. If they only leave a comment like "Great hub".. Then it is obvious that the person doesnt really read the hub and are more interested to gain a backlink to their hub. Real Housewife is totally right on the money there, we need to "Keep it Real"

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