Reputation is increasingly being regarded as one of the most important social capitals in the digital age. Why? Social interconnectedness and interdependence are two of the most distinct characteristics of the digital age. While we have always depended on others, the range of people on whom we depend now extends way beyond our immediate social circles. Trust is crucial to sustaining these webs of interdependence. Because trust is so important, trustworthiness is valued at a premium. Since a person’s reputation is one of the most important gauges of his trustworthiness, good reputation is now especially valued.
While qualities of shared humanity and time honoured virtues generate trust and good reputation, whenever there is conflict, they are weakened and undermined. Conflict makes it hard to recognize those we are in conflict with as humans, capable of reasoning, understanding, moral attributes or growth. It tarnishes the reputation of all involved in the conflict, and erodes people’s faith in others. Digital technologies further amplify the negative impact of conflict, particularly with respect to the injury it causes to one’s reputation. This rising stake of conflict heightens the importance and value of proactive conflict resolution and prevention.