In recent years, western parents have found it their duty to warn their children about the danger of strangers. Children are generally taught to be untrusting of adults that they don’t know. This mentality seems to follow them into their own adult years. The increasing presence of the media as well has most likely caused people to be more cautious and mindful of how they deal with strangers on the street. The way most of the western world sees it: anyone they encounter could be a potential evil of some sort.
On top of these concerns about the strangers we encounter in person, the increased consciousness of cyber security has increased stranger paranoia in a completely new capacity. Along with the typical warnings about the strangers on the corner, my generation has also been taught not to talk to strangers on the Internet. The interesting thing about this word of advice is that pretty much everyone on the Internet is a stranger. There is no foolproof way to confirm that the person you are talking to is legitimate.
David Picard poses an interesting question in his article about Couchsurfing.org. Couchurfing.org is a website that has a goal of acting as a connection between people in need of “couches to crash on” and people wishing to offer their hospitality to these couch crashers. The whole system revolves on people trusting one another.
Couchsurfing.org has a goal of essentially bringing the world together by fostering a comfort with hospitality on a global scale. Picard suggests that this frame of mild resembles the work of Immanuel Kant, who proposes that by sharing our homes and belongings with one another’s, we are able to take steps towards universal trust and peace.
Picard argues that this point of view is flawed. While this philosophy can apply to the areas of the world where Couchsurfing.org is primarily located (The United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia), it cannot necessarily be applied to non-cosmopolitan places. Thus far, the primary demographic represented in Couchsurfing.org is well educated, western twenty-something’s. This shows us that the theory behind Couchsurfing.com may be very useful and impactful in some areas of the world and in some demographics, but lacks the ability to cause global change.