If you are someone like me, your first instinct is to trust others; your second instinct is to want to trust others; and your otherwise instinct is to resent not being able to trust when you discover that your trust has been betrayed. Yes, I have found that most humans including myself have an innate subconscious desire to trust. We take chances and give the benefit of the doubt in the spur of the moment, only to discover that those ‘inspiring’ our trust are the least trustworthy. This discovery makes us feel powerless and betrayed. It makes us feel guilty and inadequate for not engaging our instincts and taking control of the situation or redirecting the conversation into a neutral state which would allow us to safely escape the predicament.
If you are very much like me, you do not like confrontations or engaging in negative discourse of any kind. Hence, we fall victims of ‘Social Engineering’.
I often wonder why I have this dire need to share indiscriminately. It feels at times as if these individuals intently push me to reveal information they have no business asking of me. I tell myself over and over, “I trust with my eyes open”, only to discover that when push comes to shove, I give into my innate desire to bond, to trust, to embrace others.
So what exactly is ‘Social Engineering’ and who are these social engineers? At what point does this behavior become intrusive and at what point does the actor of this behavior can be defined as a perpetrator?
Well ‘social engineering’ is a term coined primarily by Security Professionals when identifying Identity thieves; when in fact, it is a social and behavioral anthropology term governed by anthropomorphic attributions. Social engineering has a wide behavioral spectrum of vectors and variables stemming from the innate benign to the most egregious intellectual, emotional, and/or physical of assaults on our usually unsuspecting psychic. All species in the animal kingdom are susceptible to this behavior as both actors and subjects simultaneously.
In other words, at one end of this spectrum, we find ourselves in the primordial state; i.e., at birth, the beginning of a relationship, a first encounter (be it live or in cyber space), a situation we happened to find ourselves in, and so on...
We may be entering this state as a blank slate (as presumed of the state at birth, for example), a neutral state (as when unsuspecting), predisposed (as when we are being targeted and subjected by experts in any field; i.e., advertisers, marketers, and as in the case of Security professionals, perpetrators and opportunists),
An example of the benign is the social interaction between parents and newborn (assuming healthy individuals) learning and adapting to each other’s personalities; or siblings learning how to play or interact with each other while adapting to each other’s temperament driven role-playing, characteristically speaking.
When in a neutral and/or predisposed state, individuals are in a highly vulnerable position. This can be the vector driven by experts such as educators, marketers, advertisers, drug pushers (be it illicit or legal), and/or Identity Thieves and other criminal types.
Early childhood Educators, for example, are potent members of a social structure who have the power to type cast our young in so many facets and with each facet driving its own spectrum of behavioral outcomes; thus impacting on the innate personality of the child. Any of these outcomes can predispose the individual throughout his/her life to be either indiscriminately trusting to a fault or intuitively cautious when trusting.
No matter what the disposition is at any given time if you are like me, your first instinct is to trust, to want to trust, and you regret not being able to when you realized that you do not live in a trustworthy world.
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If you should like to partake in further round table discussions on the subject of social engineering types and outcomes, please feel free to contact me.
Virginia Benedict is available to speak on this subject matter as it relates to technology as social tools, information security and social behavior.
As always, you are welcome to email me your questions and feedback as well.
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