Why Millennials Have Trust Issues

The answer to why high numbers of Millennials don’t trust other people lies in understanding the nature of trust itself and the social context in which Millennials find themselves.

To trust someone, you need to share common bonds of affection, values, and even speech. You need to understand one another. And while you might not be equal in kind, you need to be equal in purpose and values. This doesn’t mean you can only trust people who are exactly like you, but it means you can only build trust when you have a common bond of knowledge with another and a sense of shared goals. While we might not distrust someone we don’t know, we certainly don’t trust them, either. At best, we’re ambivalent. Ambivalence is not a civic virtue. Trust is.

People who say the economy is creating a sense of distrust among Millennials—because it fosters inequality—touch on something true, but they’re missing the bigger picture. The point of distrust is not economic, because anyone can attest through common sense that a rich person and a poor person can trust each other. The point of distrust is the nature of human relations as people are affected by globalization and technology.

Trust is built when you know someone, when you have mutual understanding, a kind of civic love, if you will, that undergirds all other aspects of life. The economic dimension comes into play regarding trust only after there are no common bonds holding people together. All people see are the differences, and equality becomes the driving force in society—not liberty and civic cooperation.

—D. C. McAllister, What’s Behind Millennials’ Trust Issues?

2 comments

  1. Millennials aren’t the only ones to have trust issues. The generation that faced having to ratify the Constitution were unwilling to do so. They certainly debated the issue of “civic virtue” whatever that means. Considering the government bailouts and the resulting transfer of wealth from one group in society to another and our present financial crisis has given many pause over whether or not to trust the “elites” in society. The thesis of the above writer is flawed and his agenda is transparent.

  2. Well, she seems to have a chip on her shoulder.

    What’s her point exactly; and is the ‘trust’ drop from 33 (Baby boomers) to 16 (millennials) really worth that whole article?

    What’s up with this:

    “To trust someone, you need to share common bonds of affection, values, and even speech. You need to understand one another. And while you might not be equal in kind, you need to be equal in purpose and values. This doesn’t mean you can only trust people who are exactly like you, but it means you can only build trust when you have a common bond of knowledge with another and a sense of shared goals. While we might not distrust someone we don’t know, we certainly don’t trust them, either. At best, we’re ambivalent. Ambivalence is not a civic virtue. Trust is.”

    And then this:

    “These bonds cannot be strengthened in a global society where people are so different that they can’t form the foundations of trust necessary to foster a good life. They might want to, but human nature is what it is. The bonds of trust are most secure when we know and are known. They are created mostly among those who are like us, with whom we share common values and experiences—even common geography—than those we don’t.”

    I’m confused. Should we only hang with those who are ‘like us’ or not? Millennials clearly have more opportunities to break through many unhelpful social and cultural barriers of the past. But that’s not the problem.

    The problem is that we are woefully clueless about how technology is radically shaping us and our values. Neil Postman would not have written ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death’ about 30 years ago if this was just a ‘millennial’ problem… Just sayin’.

    That being said. She’s making a great point. Localism FTW! I just wish she wasn’t bashing only the (already buttered) millennials …

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