Is trust the privilege of youth?

Kevin Dugan recounts an experience he had at his local coffee shop regarding his mobile phone number:

[…] my barista encouraged me to sign up for information on future promotions and events.

She told me to write down my cell phone or, if I was willing, my email.

This struck me as odd. Personally I’d hand over an email address before I’d give over my cell phone number. My barista noted that most customers don’t consider a quick text (a temporary message passing through their phone) to be as intrusive as an e-mail (a permanent, official message clogging up their inbox).

I’ve not experienced that here in the UK but it’s surely only a matter of time before you see something similar happening, for a reason similar to that which Kevin cites.

But would I actually give out my mobile phone number in such a case?

If it were a coffee shop I didn’t know, or one of the rather anonymous chains like Starbucks, Costa or Pret, it’s unlikely unless I felt I could trust them with that information.

I find an email address much easier to give out on demand because I have an unlimited supply of one-time or disposable addresses that are wholly apart from my own email addresses, thanks to OtherInbox.

So if a business decides to email me after they said they wouldn’t, or deluges me with marketing spam, I can comfortably ignore it all if I used a disposable address.

Sadly, such email-spam things happen all too often. No trust there.

The trouble with mobile phone numbers is that disposable numbers such as my email example don’t really exist as far as I know: I can’t just make up a number on the fly as I can with email addresses.

But maybe none of this really matters depending on your generation, as Kevin notes with some US behaviour stats:

Media Post [notes that] “52% of Millennials strongly appreciate communication via cell phone or text message and 55% said the same about social networking sites. This compares with the General Population at 38% and 39%, respectively.”

Bottom line is that yesterday’s approaches are working less effectively today and they aren’t going to work at all tomorrow.

I agree with Kevin’s conclusion. Trust’s important, though. Maybe the younger you are, the more willing you are to trust.

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Will Knott

    It might also have less to do with trust and maybe more with cost.

    Cost of 1 e-mail = cost of 1,000,000 emails
    that’s the basis of spam, 0.01% response rates are profitable

    On the other hand, cost of sending 1 text != cost of 1,000,000 texts
    In some US states, the costs of receiving a commercial text should be refunded.

    Since there is a heavy price to block text in large numbers on a regular basis, its not going to be used.

    And if instead of texting, they call, you can keep them on the line and cost them more (yes I have done this, I’m cruel)

  2. Helena Markou

    Maybe it’s to do with the order in which you were first intorduced to the technology.

    In Japan, all mobile phones are 3G and have email accounts allocated to them (unsurprisingly SMS is rendered obsolete). You can quite easily give out your mobile email address to someone without telling them your phone number.
    In fact it is the norm to have a keitai (mobile) full of emails not numbers. Possibly because both comms channels are available simultaneously, giving out your phone number is reserved for close friends.

    Although it might have more to do with the fact that as all phones are 3G, you can track a person via GPS providing you know thier phone number.

  3. Gregory B.

    I’m young but I still prefer to give an email address than my phone number and it’s the same for most of my friends. I’m not sure this trust has something to do with our age or our generation. Maybe it’s related to where we live or where we come from (in my case, Belgium). Actually I don’t trust most of the companies enough to even give them my email address, so my phone number…just forget it.

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