The RIK And The Issue of Trust

The culture phenotype produced by the Kenyan social interaction at this level of trust is of course the ubiquitous black paper bag. (As an aside, have I ever informed my readers that though we call them paper bags, these black bags are in fact black plastic.) That, and the concept of simply not showing what you own, resulting also in the doily-culture of draping anything of perceived value in doilies, including radios, televisions and computers. Objects of importance may be carried in a black bag so as to not attract attention, inquisition or worse: a potentially culturally-awkward encounter of either having to trust someone who has less value-appreciation for your item than you (and therefore a potentially greater chance of misuse, or mis-care), or publicly denying them your trust, writing you off as selfish and greedy (again, these situations still take place in America, but are less common due to a significantly smaller gap in wealth status).

How does this all play into the Rural Internet Kiosk then? First off, it is in a public space and therefore accessible to everyone, and everyone is welcome to use it. We do not hire a night watchman as of yet, so what is to prevent someone from taking parts of it, such as the satellite dish or solar panel? The short-term answer: nothing. The mid-term answer may soon be something like, locks and chains and bolting to the ground. But we hope the long-term answer will be trust. And not trust because we are delusional; trust because it is a simple fact of development. Or is it?

For a long time, I assumed that as places became wealthier, societies would gain certain levels of inherent assumptions in their daily personal interactions with one another. Simple assumptions such as not thinking every individual will steal from you or not every individual will try to kill you. Positive behaviors such as this are reinforced in most all religions around the world because this is the only way we can survive. When societies develop isolated but still progressing in terms of material wealth and access to resources and different applications of said resources, the value-appreciation maintains a high level of mutuality. Thus, products of the society, such as publicly accessible Internet kiosk, are respected; each citizen trusting one another not to interfere in an unintended way because all society understand each other’s intentions and negative intentions are frowned upon; characters shunned. In a society like this we can answer, “trust,” and not seem delusional.


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