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Try Leaving a Good Review - It'll Make the World a Better Place

A waterfall in the Boch Hollow nature preserve in southern Ohio.

I've seen people posting about getting bad reviews and it got me thinking. I haven't had any bad reviews for my book yet, but I have had some comments on YouTube that qualify as such, and it is perplexing to me.

Personally, if I don't like something I will typically just move on from it. I have only ever left a review if I have something positive to say OR if the product/service was horrific and I want to let others know to steer clear (very rare occasion). So, what possesses people to leave bad reviews due to simply not liking something?

More than that though, do they think they are being funny, or maybe that they are the greatest reviewer/person ever? As an example, though not necessarily a review, I got a comment on one of my super short flash horror stories the other day in which the commentor said simply "No wonder you only have 1 like.". Now, I'm sure this person thought they were being witty, but by the time I saw the comment there were a lot more likes on the video. So, what drove them to leave that comment?

Personally, I find those kinds of comments a little funny (whether on my videos or other videos I have seen), but I see where they could also be hurtful to some authors/creators/small business owners. Not everyone reacts the same way, and while I might laugh about it and move on there are plenty of people out there who really find it hurtful.

And maybe that's the core of the issue.

People online feel like they're invincible. They take their frustration from their own lives and target those who they perceive to be doing better than them, trolling or hurling insults in the hopes of bringing those people down. For the most part, we are anonymous online. You don't really know for sure who the person on the other end of the line is, so it makes it easier to tell them how awful they are to make yourself feel better.

Let's take a minute to look at the impact bad/negative reviews actually have.

For a small business, a bad review might mean they get less business, and in extreme cases could even drive them out of business. While some negative reviews might be warranted, the truth is that many are not. If you went to a small, locally owned, business and had a bad experience, it may be something that could be corrected by speaking to someone like the manager/owner. Some of what might cause you to leave that review could actually be fixed with no intervention.

Your review could also have an impact on individual employees at the business.

For instance, let’s say you went to a locally owned restaurant for lunch one day. This might be the first time you’ve been there, or maybe you are a regular, either way the server seems to be in a bad mood or is generally not responsive. You could go on Yelp/Google/(pick your favorite site) and leave a review stating the waiter/waitress was awful OR you could acknowledge that that person is human and might have just been having a bad day. The bad review could wind up being the thing that gets that person fired when what they really needed was someone to talk to.

Most of the problems we have can be fixed with communication and understanding. It’s easy to assume the cashier at the store is bad at their job, or to shake your fist at the sky and complain about how “this generation” is just lazy or incompetent, but the right thing to do is seldom easy.

Take a step back, look at the situation from a bigger view, and realize we are all experiencing life from our own perspective. Where you might see someone who is nothing more than an asshole, they might be dealing with something like the loss of a loved one.

This doesn’t just apply to leaving reviews, it applies to life in general. Maybe you have a coworker who seems to always be late or distracted, or maybe you know someone who seems to be angry all the time. It just might be that they are dealing with a lot more in their lives than you realize, and they may need someone to open up to. You’d be surprised at how far you can get and how big of an impact you can have just by talking to them.

Getting back to reviews.

What about leaving a bad review for larger companies? Most of the time, the answer will vary based on who is monitoring the page where you leave the review, but it isn’t really going to do a lot to leave a bad review. I’ve had a couple of occasions where I left a mediocre review for a nationally known place (IHOP comes to mind) and have gotten a response to my review apologizing for the lackluster service.

I’ve only ever left one or two bad reviews, and in those instances my review really didn’t do much and got no response. So, what was the point? I might’ve felt better for a bit afterward, but in the long run I have more than forgotten about those places. The instances I tend to remember are those where I received outstanding service or where the place was amazing.

To wrap up this rant.

For those leaving reviews - think before you type/write. A bad review is really only warranted as a means to let others know to stay away. This should be used after you have tried other means and gotten no response or have seen the same situation over and over. With everything that is going on in the world right now, the last thing we need is more unnecessary negativity. Try lifting others up for a change and see how it goes. Maybe even leave a positive review!

For those on the receiving end of reviews - The next time you get a bad comment/review, imagine the person leaving it is having a bad day or going through something difficult. They are lashing out at whatever they can to make themselves feel like they have some power in their lives and you just happened to wind up on the bad end of it that day. That isn't to say you should ignore all criticism but learn to separate true criticism from the person whose life is handing them a bucket of shit and help make the world a better place!

As usual, thanks for coming to my Ted Talk, I welcome any comments you may have :)

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