Has Our Obsession With Online Reviews Gone Too Far?

Oct 17, 2015
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Members of our global online society all share the modern obsession of checking ratings and reviews of almost anything before we part with our cash. Conditioning of this sort of behaviour was encouraged with the simple eBay feedback system. Fast forward a few years and we now happily wade through hundreds of reviews on sites such as Yelp, Trip Advisor, NetFlix or Amazon.

Most of us are guilty of paying more attention to that one negative review by a disgruntled user rather than the 100 positive comments, which probably says more about our online behaviour than anything else.

When returning from your holiday and asked where you stayed, you can guarantee that the jealous gossips or nosey types frequenting your office will perform a quick search on Trip Advisor. They might quietly rip it apart behind your back but thankfully, we can happily file these situations under first world problems.

We are fully subscribed to rating anything that moves including your Uber taxi driver who dropped you home that night you had too much to drink at the office party. However, you need to remember that the driver will be reviewing you as a passenger too.

We now reside in a world where many believe they can find a potential soulmate or life partner based on a looking at a photo of someone for a split second on Tinder. Maybe, we shouldn’t be too surprised that the controversial app Peeple will soon be arriving on the scene and allows users to “leave 1-5-star reviews of the people in your life.”

Just as businesses struggled with the negative aspects of sites such as Yelp, it appears that the tables have been turned with the impending release of this so-called “Yelp for People.” The use of gamification techniques to rack up points, medals or rating levels by making or breaking others self-esteem seems somewhat bad form.

Alarm bells first started ringing when it was revealed that for $50 you’d be able to remove negative reviews. For $100 you could have your profile blocked permanently which sounds awfully similar to the protection racket offered by Ashley Maddison a few months ago, and we all know how that story ended.

Ironically, Peeple CEO Julia Cordray knows only too well the modern problem of dealing with haters online after suffering somewhat of a backlash from the online community.

Anyone who has been on a bad date or attended a job interview that didn’t quite go as well as expected could then find themselves with a low rating next to their name. We are all incredibly complex individuals and one of the main reasons why you could and should never rate human beings like you would a restaurant.

The importance of an online reputation has even led to some to advertise their services for a positive review on iTunes, Yelp or Trip Advisor on sites such as Fiverr or Craigslist. This further illustrates why we shouldn’t always believe everything that we read online.

There are a growing number of opportunists calling themselves digital marketer or even guru that promise to get you ten thousand followers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for a bag of silver.

The harsh reality is that online communities and reputations were never successfully built by purchasing fake robot followers generated by a machine, what is the point of Tweeting to a crowd of followers that don’t actually exist?

Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut or magic recipe for success – Creating a successful and profitable business takes time since you build your reputation as customers learn to trust and rely on you, one by one. – Richard Branson

Fortunately I am of an age, where I am comfortable with any decision or action that I take whether they be online or offline. I will have both good and bad days and will even make a few mistakes along the way, but that’s fine as long as I learn from them rather than repeat them. My simple philosophy consists of working hard and helping others out along the way after all the rest will look after itself

Maybe we should stop looking for quick fixes or shortcuts to solutions that don’t actually exist and concentrate on the long haul journey ahead of us all by spending time and learning from those around us.

The truth is that we do not need an app to show us how and who to interact with. Reputations have to be earned over a considerable length of time, and there are no shortcuts in this long race of life. Your lifestyle choices, how much time and thought you spend with your audience will ultimately determine how successful you are when building an online community.

Let me know your thoughts on Peeple and our increasing reliance on reviews of products and services online by commenting below.

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