The Technique of Trust

I never liked trust falls.

Such is the bane of summer church camp experiences. The team building exercises, the “get the tire off of this pole,” the “get the team over this wall,” the “everyone cross hands and then join with someone in the group and we will begin untangling.” These each had their own strengths and weaknesses.

But by far the most overused and oversung activity was the trust fall. Most likely due to its ritualistic nature, where each person takes a turn, and the ensuing dopamine kick on their faces after the fact is contagious. “I could feel that lurch you know?” you hear her say.

Still, I never liked it.

The reason is that the trust fall has so little to do with one kind of trust, and instead in another kind. I will call this “trusting technique.”

Okay so people fall in one of two ways. Either they bend their knees and drop straight down, or they lie flat and fall like a 2×4. One of these is much better for actually getting caught. Simply dropping down and bending your knees actually reduces the amount of people who catch you to two or three columns, which can significantly increase the chance that they wont catch you. On the other hand, displacing your weight by falling flat is much scarier, but much safer.

The youth counselors who directed these team building exercises never brought this up, which now in hindsight is so irksome. Yes, you have to trust, but what you are trusting is just as much the method as the people around you. The nuance was always there, but never addressed.

So take that idea and apply it now, to coronavirus. We have been doing a pretty good job as far as my eyes can see about social distancing. Sure, you get anecdotal news reports of the “Florida Man” on the Miami beach. Maybe some pictures of restaurants here and there. But for the most part, urban life has altered dramatically.

Yet there are some people who are bending their knees and falling flat. It is not that they do not trust their fellow American. It is that for some reason they forgot the technique. The paradox of socially distancing is that the more it works, the less it looks like it is working. We cannot see the timeline where we took zero steps and millions died, thank God. On the other hand, since it is not explicit, we feel as though social distancing was a waste of time.

When you do the “trust fall” of the coronavirus, remember the technique is the most important. Wear the mask, keep the distance, take out rather than sit in. If there is a way to do the technique and prevent spread, do it.

Otherwise all that borrowed time will have been for nothing, and so many more people will catch it.

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