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Trust And Mistrust

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A short while back the big story in the news was the “revelation” of the U.S. government “spying” on the heads of state of various nations around the world, as well as people “of interest” around the world.

In the news all of this is referred to as a result of the actions of James Snowden releasing classified documentation of the National Security Agency’s various spying programs. And whether people believe what he did was right or wrong, there’s no doubt of the impact this is having on the relationships and communication abilities of the United States, and nations around the world.

I’ve seen and read plenty of commentary in the media saying it is naïve to believe the world, and it’s various leaders, didn’t know this was going on, and their public reactions now is just posturing for their own domestic audiences. And yes, I believe that’s true. Apparently even governments have issues questioning who to trust.

Narrowing this down to a more personal level, I was recently talking to a friend who owns several franchise outlets for a national chain; indeed he sits on the franchisee advisory board for the national franchise.

The discussion was about a story which developed on a social media painting the brand in a negative light. He then told me the franchising company had an entire department in place whose job it is, is to respond however they can to combat any negative posts or stories they find in social media.

They spend their entire days searching for any mentions of their brand on social media, and where they can respond to any negative views. But, they are not responding as the corporate entity. Rather, they disguise themselves, attempting to appear as average consumers with no ties to the company. Their job – to negate the negative commentary toward the company that might be building.

As I heard this story  I wasn’t really surprised that this was going on. But I was surprised at how much energy, effort, and labor was devoted to it… and of course, my thoughts turned to thinking about how prevalent this type of activity would be in the cruise industry.

The cruise lines have most certainly increased their presence on social media. They are all increasing their presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, Linkdin, and all the rest, and they are doing so clearly using their corporate identities. And I have absolutely no objections to that. In fact, in many ways I think of it as a positive, because their presence in those media forms makes it easier for the public to communicate with them, and question them.

But, like my friends national chain, I feel much less comfortable, thinking they have employees whose job is to monitor those sites, and respond with fake identities, and hiding their affiliations with the company.

Though I always believed there was some “of that” going on, until my recent conversation with my friend, I don’t think I had any understanding of just how pervasive this is.  Yes, I have to admit, as much of a cynic as I thought I could be, I was naïve.

Now, I have a somewhat serious problem trying to figure out what/who I can trust.

I would much rather the cruise lines involve themselves just as much as they can using only their corporate identities, and deal with any issues which arise with direct and honest responses from their entire online prescence. That type of approach would certainly earn more of my respect.

However, believing that’s what will happen is as naïve as believing governments will quit spying on each other just because it has become public information that they do.

– A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising –



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