How the times are a changin’: what the response of two girls trapped down a storm-drain tells us about the nature of trust in a networked world

Metro_trapped if only little Timmy O'Toole had been blessed with internet access to Facebook…  news today courtesy of Metro who this morning reported on the plight of two young girls trapped down a storm-drain near Adelaide, Australia.  panic they didn't.  rather they turned to Facebook.

well you would wouldn't you.  faced with a potentially lethal situation with nothing but a mobile phone to help you, why call the puny institutional emergency services when you're entire social network is only 140 characters away.  one Glenn Benham – who took part in the rescue – disagreed, commenting that "it is a worrying development.  young people should realise it's better to contact us directly".

perhaps, but the response of our real life Timmy O'Tooles to their predicament is testament to the extent to which trust in institutions amongst young people has eroded.  our two tweens placed far more trust in their peers, in the network they had already created and curated around them, than in the police.

because trust is what this is all about.  who two girls trusted with their lives…  not for them the remote, unknown and imposed structure of the emergency services.  rather they put themselves into the hands of the known network that they've invited to surround them.  they are their network and their network is them.  in the end, this was a simple act of self-preservation.

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