Videos such as "Bride Has Massive Hair Wig Out" and those posted by Lonelygirl15 on You Tube may help sell products or kick-start a budding actor's career. But they also have a more pernicious effect on our tendency to trust what seems genuine.
"I can't see how they don't make people more cynical," says Gillian Watson, a social psychologist at the University of British Columbia.
"If one is always skeptical, then goes to cynicism, you end up feeling pretty negative about the world," Mr. Federman says. "You end up with a very sour disposition. You tend to look at people and interactions as everyone trying to manipulate you, and tend to have a miserable existence, quite frankly."
Can flogging have the same sort of impact on trust in a society that a police state can have? If everyone is suspected of being a shyster, is that any different than if everyone is suspected of being a terrorist, in terms of the strength of casual bonds that make business and social discourse operate?