Figuring out who and what to trust is never easy, and the onslaught of information associated with the current situation has rendered this task more difficult than ever. Every day we interact with people, information, and objects that may, or may not, be reliable. Still, it behooves us to do whatever we can to base our decisions and actions on sources that we believe are dependable.
While trustworthiness is a trait most commonly associated with people, I had an experience the other day that reminded me that the question of trust applies to many aspects of life. Stuck at home like so many others, I decided to reach out to someone whom I had not contacted in a long time. I thought this “stay at home” period might offer a great opportunity to reconnect. I searched my contact list and found an unidentified email address that I thought belonged to the individual I was hoping to reach. The problem was, I wasn’t sure if this address was current. I didn’t want to send an email to the wrong address – that would be embarrassing! I tried searching through my “trash” and “sent” mailboxes, but nothing turned up. Ultimately, I didn’t trust the address, so I didn’t’ use it.
[In case you are wondering, I ended up finding the person through a social media channel.]
This experience got me thinking about what habits, people, and belongings we might keep around us that we honestly don’t trust enough to employ. As I pondered this question, I realized that there are a number of reasons why reliability might be called into question. For example:
|Why I might doubt trustworthiness
|I believe a source has questionable
or self-serving motives
|• Articles, podcasts, news stories
• Friend/family gossip
• Spam phone calls/emails
• Unsolicited advice
• “Sponsored” social media content
|I believe the item may be past its useful life
|• Old glasses and/or contact lenses
• Dated travel/restaurant guidebooks
• Dated maps
• Textbooks >5 years old
• Rickety furniture
• Unidentified/old phone numbers and addresses
• Old medication
|I’ve had a prior bad experience using it
|• Recipe “fail”
• Device that never worked
• Snack I opened but didn’t like
• Book I never finished
• Unflattering hair, nail, or makeup color
• Frustrating customer experience
• Shredder that always jams
• Unbalanced scale
|I know I’m not using it properly
|• Periodically used calendar/planner
• Unclean/ill-cared-for tools and equipment
• Overloaded circuit
• Car with “check engine” light on
|I’ve never used it before,
so I don’t know whether it will work
|• Appliance/gadget that’s never been opened
• Recommended “shortcut” I’ve never tried
• App or software that was downloaded but never used
• Item purchased online with few customer reviews
Isn’t it interesting to consider how many things we hold onto that we would be reluctant to use or act upon because we doubt their reliability? As I often tell clients, anything in your life needs to “justify its real estate.” This includes physical space, mental space, and time. For instance:
If we’ve made a few recipes from a cookbook that turned out poorly and/or looked nothing like the photographs, maybe it is time to pitch the book.
If we wouldn’t trust our old guidebook to make travel plans, but instead would look on Trip Advisor, why keep that book around?
If we would never use an appliance, gadget, or tool because we don’t know how to use it properly, do we want to commit the time to learn or would we rather pass it on?
If we are clicking through to articles, but then discounting their content as false, why are we wasting our time reading?
The truth is, we all have limited space, time, and energy. Consequently, it makes sense to surround ourselves with people, objects, and inputs that we trust and use. We may hold onto some items for nostalgic reasons, but in general, anything that doesn’t meet these qualifications can be released.
* * * * *
Can you think of anything you have kept in your home that you don’t trust?