I don’t like to be pushed. Unless you are a child in a swing, I can’t imagine anyone really likes someone bigger and stronger to put their effort into a good shove. I especially don’t like to be pushed for expressing my opinion or staying in my own lane.
One of the ever expanding opportunities to express opinion is writing reviews. The earliest reviews I am familiar with are the ones from old movies of actors waiting around in smoke filled restaurants waiting for the early morning papers to be delivered; the over dramatic actor who doesn’t want to know, but allows it to be read to him as he strikes a pose, bracing to hear the scathing words of the New York Times theater critic or the young understudy who’s whole future hangs in the balance while the Star crumples to the floor. The success or failure of the show depends on the one or two critics writing a favorable review.
Today reviews are attached to everything. Movies and theater are a natural. Books and music come with both fan and professional evaluations. Amazon lets customers review every product they sell. Toilet paper? Yes. Bird seed? Yes. High price electronics? Yes. Now everyone with access to the internet is a reviewer. Content has been replace with Feedback as king. Free books are available if you will just read it and post a review. Fandango emails right after your movie is over to see how you liked the show!
With all these free flowing opinions two problems have emerged. The first is not all experiences are positive therefore not all reviews will be glowing endorsements. The second is that people are relying more on the experience and opinions of others instead of forming their own.
It is the first that has me writing this afternoon. Over the past month I have had extended contact with two major communication empires and one little family restaurant. All three have lost sight of customer service let alone customer satisfaction. When discussions have turned to other’s experience with the first two there is great sympathy and heads nodding in understanding at the frustration and seemingly endless process. The little restaurant, in entering the world of social media, did not have a clear understanding of how quickly they can escalate a non-issue into a very negative one.
Which leads into the second problem. Because a neutral review upset the owner of the little restaurant, a small place in an unremarkable strip mall is being discussed by people from a dozen states. My audience may not be vast but it is loyal and knowledgeable. Locals who may have never heard of it now know that the owner’s response was to tell me I was violating his intellectual property by posting a bland review on his page, that I was creating a negative vibe on the page and that I was bringing the whole thing down.
This was not a positive way to influence my opinion. It had exactly the opposite effect. A mild pass that I had forgotten about entirely was now front and center. My opinion was not only being challenged but my right to express it was being denied. I did not go out of my way to post a negative review. I had simply used the review tool on the page to leave my experience. The review stands. It has been edited to include the request of the owner.
I have declined to write reviews for books that have been provided to me free for marketing purposes. I couldn’t in good faith endorse or recommend anyone else spend time reading the material submitted. I do write rave reviews for books and anything else I enjoy and put my endorsement behind.
My opinion is just that. Mine and opinion. If someone wants my opinion to change badly enough, they will be much more successful if they understand what formed the opinion in the first place and change that first. The opinion will follow.
The great news is you are just as free to form and have your own.