I am pretty notoriously terrible at social deduction games. It’s not that I’m bad at lying; funny enough. I can’t tell when someone is lying to me, which has led to getting called gullible more than once.
At first, I felt embarrassed and a little ashamed for being unable to tell when people were lying. In hindsight, it was obvious. At the time, though, it didn’t occur to me that I was being led astray until the knife was literally plunged into my back. (Well… Literal in the digital sense. I’ve played a lot of Among Us in my day).
I’ve come to understand that trusting people (even when I shouldn’t) isn’t necessarily bad. Yeah, it sucks to be lied to or, in worse cases, betrayed, but that isn’t going to stop me from continuing to trust people.
I find it easier to trust people than to distrust them, and I’ve made peace with that. Being gullible isn’t so bad.
What does “being gullible” actually mean?
We’re taught from a very young age that being gullible is a terrible thing.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who remembers that whole “gullible on the ceiling” bit from middle school. For those unfamiliar, the joke is that kids tell each other that “gullible is on the ceiling.” The kids who look up and see nothing are laughed at by everyone who’s in on the joke.
While it seems like a harmless prank at first, internally, it teaches those kids not to easily believe what they’re told.
Which can be a good thing! In certain circumstances, it’s great to take everything with a grain of salt and not just believe everything at face value. On the other hand, it also teaches us that people are not to be trusted.
That’s why being gullible isn’t really a bad thing. It just means you trust people. Trusting people is not something to be mocked for or ashamed of. It is also not your fault if someone uses your trust to betray you. You are not responsible for their actions. You can only control your own, and it truly takes a lot of strength to continue trusting people after being betrayed.
I won’t say don’t stay on guard around people who have shown they will lie to you. But knowing that there is a risk and choosing to believe someone is a mark of courage. It can be hard to trust again once you’ve been hurt by someone you did trust.
That doesn’t mean you necessarily think everyone is lying to your face, but it could mean that you assume everyone has ill intentions, which is exhausting. People aren’t out to get you. That cute classmate who conversed with you one day probably just wanted to talk — they weren’t trying to laugh at you or steal anything. Maybe they just liked your shirt.
It can be hard to believe that after someone has talked to you just to make fun of you, though. Anyone would be cautious and try to protect themselves from getting hurt.
Living with your head down, distrusting anyone and everyone, is way too depressing. The only options aren’t to trust everyone or trust no one, as that would be like flipping between two extremes. Most people find a way to live somewhere in the middle, probably where we should be.
My point is, don’t be down on yourself if you find yourself trusting people too easily. Being gullible isn’t so bad. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to trust someone, no matter how many times you fall for the ol’ gullible on the ceiling schtick.
We’re all a little gullible
Even the most cynical of us are probably a little more gullible than we think. No matter how hard we try, people are trusting by nature and will put their trust in each other. Not only is that amount of distrust emotionally too exhaustive for our brains to support, but it’s also illogical.
People don’t go out of their way to lie and hurt others nonstop. If they have nothing to gain, people don’t hurt each other. So we’re going to believe people when they tell us things like how to get to a nearby grocery store or that their favorite book is Lord of the Rings.
Even subconsciously knowing that people won’t lie about some things makes it easier for us to believe they won’t lie about most things. Even when we try to distrust people and their every motive, there’s no way to definitively draw the line between what they will lie about and what they won’t.
There are also many more tangible factors that can make us trust someone, even to the point of being called gullible. Factors like trusting people with authority or those we’re familiar with. Most of the time, it’s safe to trust people like that, and they won’t betray your trust.
At the end of the day…
However, trusting someone does not mean passing off responsibility for your actions to them. I think it’s evident why you shouldn’t just blindly trust someone in a place of authority (that horrifying Harvard prison experiment, anyone?), but you can trust someone and still think for yourself.
If you’re still having trouble with whether or not you can trust someone, be sure to read our blog about some telltale signs that you can (or can’t). Do you think being gullible isn’t so bad?