I’ve been meaning to explore how we determine what information we share with other people. Obviously trust is a critical component, you need to determine how much you trust someone before you can release certain information to them but there is definitely more to it than that. While we trust someone a lot we might not share every piece of information that comes our way with that individual. My current working theory is that we also evaluate how useful that information exchange will be. For example, if you ask me about binary addition and I would proceed to share that knowledge with you because it would be of value to you. You could tell me your birthday in hopes that I would do something nice for you, a situation where you gain value by sharing information with me. If you ask me what my middle name is I would not share that piece of information with you because it is of no value to you. This is all well and good for simple facts and academic experiments, but I’m really interested in how it effects social communication.
I’m doubtful (which sometimes means I’m worried) that we simply don’t simply share information with others because of the information’s usefulness and that persons trust, there might be other factors at work here. I worry about this because it means that either a lot of people don’t think I’m very useful on social matters or they don’t trust me. I try very hard to be both useful and trustworthy in this realm, but if I’m not perceived that way then I must not be doing something right?
Maybe there are other people out there more useful and/or more trustworthy that are better candidates to receive a information. Socially speaking I don’t think there is any realistic physical limit to the sources a message can be shared with, but I bet people choose to self–limit this number to better control their flow of information and their image in the world. By blogging like this I don’t have to pick and choose who I tell my stories to, I can share them for anyone who is interested in reading them. That was a particularly poor example if I must say so myself.
I had a whole paragraph here where I convinced myself that I was socially useful but I’m not the person that I should be convincing. I need no additional pressure to take my own advice. Maybe I just do a really good job of compartmentalizing things so people don’t perceive I have any knowledge in a field. Alternatively, I guess I could be unapproachable. I kind of doubt the approachability thing because a) I shower daily b) I’m usually pretty easy to find in person/online. My contact information is no secret (just look at the right column of my blog). I guess there could also be this fear of judgement and the potential for repercussions in a workplace, which is a completely justifiable fear. Everyone is judging everyone else all the time, it’s not like my judgements of you matter much. I don’t have a silly sign about a “judgement free zone” because that would be a lie, but I’ve become fairly well versed in preventing any personal judgements from effecting my ability to perform objectively. I might think you are a complete idiot, but you would have no clue. Alternatively, I could think that you are super cool and want to “be friends” (whatever that means) but you might think I didn’t care to be around you at all. Anything is possible these days.
Good night moon.