I’ve come to the conclusion that people only rate or review things while they’re either really pissed, really happy, or when they feel nobody’s been paying them any attention. It makes sense. Inside each of us is a need to vent when our expectations aren’t met, or applaud when we’re pleasantly surprised. But when I scan a page of reviews, searching for enlightenment or guidance, I get the sense that what I’m really scanning is a printout of the worlds’ emotional issues. Love, hate, adoration, and regret; review sites boast more roller coasters than Cedar Point amusement park.
There’s something liberating about getting stuff off your chest, especially if it can be done anonymously, or for free. I’m not bitching on behalf of the many therapists who I suppose have lost business on account of the internet. I’m not bitching at all. I just find it interesting that anyone who can count to five is allowed to do so, publicly, while riding a wave of mental imbalance. Maybe review sites should hire out-of-work therapists to sort the rage from the reality. That way the rest of us aren’t stuck sifting through the mire, guessing who’s being honest and who’s having too good or too bad of a day.
Sometimes when I need a laugh, I’ll go to a review site and check out the bandwagon assessments; you know, the ones written by those who struggle to have an original thought: “@dimwaddle3 is absolutely right! My Acme sprinkler broke too when I ran over it with my mower! One star!” This is the sort of review that makes me chuckle, makes me shake my head, and then makes me want to buy a case of Acme sprinklers.
I prefer not to evaluate the products I purchase, but if I do, I do it silently, without any posting of stars or announcements. I don’t know why anyone should care what I think. I do yelp occasionally, but only when someone steps on my foot or I inadvertently bite into a whole peppercorn. I don’t understand the use of stars anyway. None of us have ever touched or tasted one. Why do they represent a system of measurement? We should use something more tangible and relatable, like candy bars, or tiny icons of expensive bottles of wine. We all know that five candy bars are better than one candy bar. I’m not so sure that five stars are better than one. If the earth had to negotiate five stars instead of one, we’d probably all be goners – especially if the earth was texting while orbiting. By the way, when did five become the gold standard? It used to be ten, didn’t it? If we get any lazier, excellence will be defined by two stars – or two Butterfingers.
There’s another reason I don’t like to rate things. Whether I’m impressed or disappointed about a product I’ve purchased, I’m simply in awe that someone actually figured out how to make it. Think about the things we take for granted, like a microwave oven, or a stick of gum. You could give me a box filled with live microwaves, or a broken off chunk of Wrigley Field, and I never would be able to make an oven or Chiclets out of them. How can people not give manufacturers five stars just for trying?
So, to all you manufacturers, builders, and creators, thank you for all you do, whether it enhanced my life or not. If I were the rating sort, I’d give you all the highest mark. But I’m not going to do that because I’m not too happy, I’m not too pissed, and I don’t feel at all neglected.
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Harry Margulies is the author of The Knowledge Holder and the recently released The Weight of the Moon. When he’s not writing about romance, money, women, and other subjects he thoroughly enjoys but knows nothing about, he’s frittering his precious time as a cartoonist.