Recently, I did some digging on a product that had a fairly low “star” rating. It seems that there were only a handful of people who had rated the item and one of them gave it a single star, yet mentioned it was a great product. Their issue was they were sold an extended warranty, which they found out after the fact, was a rip-off. Or at least that’s THEIR experience.
Sadly, I believe most people, including me on an average day, would have just seen that low star rating and moved on.
I read a review of another product not that long ago and it became clear to me that the reviewer was relatively unclear on the concept as to the limitations of the particular item. Again, had I just gone on the main page 2.5 out of 5 rating, I might have missed what for me was a great opportunity.
Internet communications is a difficult enough thing to begin with and I have been misinterpreted many times after leaving remarks in a forum or thread. I suspect that might be the case with most people. Generally speaking, I have trouble with people who might leave unqualified and unsubstantiated comments that say things such as “I tried that and it was a complete waste of money. Save your time and money”
Those types of statements pop up all the time and they just don’t really give us any information. Who is this person? Why did they have a problem? Is there anything that remotely parallels their experiences with mine?
But it is equally as frustrating to have someone chime in with a completely unqualified and unsupported “I love it. It changed my life. You have to try it.”
Given that many people are rather afraid of saying anything negative online, the path many groups, forums , etc. tend to take is “Jump in. The water is fine.” In fact, it tends to be a bit more upbeat than that, filled with what I and a few other cynics refer to as “Cotton Candy, Unicorn, Rainbow dreams and promises”
And under this umbrella of “acceptance, warmth and encouragement”, I have heard some of the worst advice any human being could ever hope to get or give. The internet, as we know is not a great haven for truth, even if we’re not discussing the fact that “Sexy19Chick” is really a 57-year-old man who lives in his mother’s basement.
I just wonder how anybody can flat-out give advice to someone they don’t know, without the slightest inkling of understanding that person’s unique circumstances. But what I find even more interesting is how people will accept unqualified advice, simply because it’s what they want to hear.
It happened in a LinkedIn group recently, whereby somebody made a statement that she had taken a class from someone and that the teacher was incredible. Most psychology books will tell you that this is a normal way to feel when one has just spent $500 or so dollars. The need to rationalize the purchase is extremely strong. So, then what about this experience was so incredible?
In this particular case, the class was a voice over class. There was no attempt to qualify the statement, because it simply couldn’t be done. Was this person making more money as a result of taking the class? No. Were they able to register any milestone or goals as a result of taking this class? No. Is this person making any sort of living doing voice over? Well, so far a bit less than the $500 they spent on the class.
So what made the class so terrific? The teacher told her what she wanted to hear. She was entertained. And she (falsely) believes the effect of taking this class on her life and well-being to be of far greater import than it actually was.
I’m not saying that people shouldn’t take classes or that they shouldn’t listen to another’s opinion.
Yelp is full of recommendations made by people who were, in many cases sold a bill of goods and don’t even know they were conned. Even if their ceiling were to fall in a year later, they’re not going to go online and find all the places they gave glowing recommendations on and then retract them. In most cases they wouldn’t remember their passwords, let alone their sites.
Others leave positive reviews because they are lured by promises of discounts.
And there are more than just a few reasons why somebody might vindictively leave some negative recommendation.
The women who made the recommendation regarding the teacher in most likelihood will have moved on to some other vocation in another few months, yet she might still make this recommendation years into the future.
Get to know somebody before you make or take a recommendation. And more importantly, QUALIFY your recommendations and ask others to qualify theirs. If somebody has gotten healthier, wealthier or wiser from some sort of experience, I’d like to know about it and I’d also like to know about them. It may or may not pertain to me. We are all individuals and if we look at recommendations as “medicine”, it becomes clear that what may be one’s medicine may be another’s poison.
Also, think long and hard about whether your personal experience was what you think it was. An average trip can somehow become magical when we really want to have something to say and when we are coaxed on by the land of Unicorns and Cotton Candy. Conversely, we may not realize our misplaced rage before we hit the send button. It’s happened to me more than once.