Tag Archives: trust

Insuring against reality

Ads for insurance assail us ceaselessly.  We discuss and debate the best companies, rates, deductibles.  We maneuver the labyrinth of policies and hope to emerge in a perfectly safe place where our lives are protected from any conceivable disaster.

But it’s the nature of insurance that gets me.  Doesn’t an insurance policy essentially reflect that the individual carrier has no community on which to depend in an emergency?  Doesn’t it mean that all I have is my house, and if it burns down then there is nothing else in this world for me?  No one will take me in or help me rebuild or otherwise shelter me from the elements.

Supposedly having insurance demonstrates individual responsibility.  I send all this money to people I don’t even know so as not to be a burden to those I love if I ever have needs.  But what if you were to give all those various insurance premiums to someone whose house had burnt down?  By that altruistic act, wouldn’t you be insuring that there would be folks who would help you out in turn, should you ever need it?

Do we not trust each other?

We like the idea that we are protected by our policies so that we aren’t at the mercy of family, friends and community, so we send our protection money to… strangers?  We hope that these unknown persons in the guise of insurance agents will deign to show up at the scene of our emergency, ask us a bunch of personal and accusatory questions, and then decide whether or not they will give us the help for which we have been faithfully sending them all that money.  This makes us sleep better at night?

When did we decide to progress to a stage in civilization where a contract is a closer, more dependable bond than blood and camaraderie (I invoke here the 19th century definition of camaraderie as “a feeling of close friendship and trust among a group of people”)? 

We feel better that strangers decide who gets what help?  That they get the interest on the money sitting in wait of a disaster to relieve?  

I don’t claim to have the answer to this dilemma, nor do I necessarily believe it is possible for us in our modern world to take care of each other’s crises in the manner to which we have grown accustomed.  

I am just bothered by the whole idea, and saddened that there does not appear to be a less corporate, more community-oriented way to feel safer in our reality.

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RapLeaf based in California… of course

RapLeaf, the site dedicated to helping people to trust one another, is based in California.  Of course.

Being from the Golden State myself, it makes perfect sense to me that this is where they would come up with such an idea, to “help” people trust each other.  Here in North Carolina, where I am currently in residence, if you told someone that before they do business, they should get advice from an online reputation rating site, they would most likely chuckle and look puzzled.  What a crazy idea.  Citizens of this area, why, they’ve done business with the same people their whole lives.  If they needed a new service, they’d talk to their friends and get a recommendation.

It’s only in a place like California, in the Wild West, where the cowboys roam and the gold diggers are ready to stab you in the back, that they would suffer such a crisis of untrustworthiness.

And what is the solution?  Not get to know your neighbor better, not develop a face-to-face network of trustworthy humans, not conduct the bulk of your commerce with people in the real world, not guard against losing yourself in the online capitalist free-for-all.  No, just log on to a self-appointed reputation judging site and let them decide for you!  After all, the members of the team have stellar ratings themselves!  So of course they are trustworthy!.

I’m up to a rating of 12, not sure how.  That’s 12 out of a million, don’t forget.  So, honestly, trust me, you shouldn’t believe a thing I say. 

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Your Reputation on RapLeaf

Have you heard of “Rapleaf”? It is an online site dedicated to rating people’s reputations so that others will know if they should do business with them or not. If you have had any activity on the internet, like a Facebook or Myspace account, or perhaps you have bought something on Amazon, you will probably find your reputation rated on Rapleaf.

They claim that they exist to promote a society “where it is more profitable to be ethical.”  Presumably we have given up on the idea that we could just get to know people before we trust them. The naive, outdated plan of being recommended by a real person in realtime, or dealing with a network of friends, is just too impractical in this day and age. Luckily, we can just look people up on Rapleaf and we’ll know the good guys from the bad guys!

They have a listing of three of the sites I am on, Myspace, Facebook, and Amazon, but they do not have me as signed up with LinkedIn, Bebo, or, can you believe it, WordPress!!! All this writing and no credit for it! How sad.

So when I first realized they were rating me, I was ranked as a five. Goof around a little, add another email address, now I’m a 10 (as of three minutes ago.) But out of what? I mean, on the beach, a ten is the hottest of the hotties, a rating I could never hope to achieve. So, rock on.

Well, unable to find info to answer the question “10 out of what,” I decide to click on the names of the “Team” over on the right hand side of the screen. Find a guy who’s a 95. Hmmm. Keep clicking, end up on someone whose reputation rates a 4194. Okay, please. So I’m a 10 out of a million? That is so awesome.

What is your reputation in cyberspace? Who is going to search for you on Rapleaf and see that you are a 4 and think you suck? Just thought you’d like to keep tabs on who might be dragging your name through the mud here in cyberspace.

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