Congratulations world – we no longer make mistakes. Or at least most of us don’t. It’s evident by reading through online review sites; the consumer these days simply does not make mistakes. Facebook, Yelp, Google Reviews and other random sites allow folks to “review” businesses with impunity. And while I’m not against free expression, I am for common sense and understanding. What the average consumer doesn’t know about the small business owner and his / her business is that most of them dedicate their entire life to that business, it is their income, they contribute to the community through job creation, donations and sponsorships to non-profits. Your one-star review because your menu had a smudge on it does nothing but subvert that effort.
Let me be clear, if you go to a restaurant and your food arrives with a dead rat on the side – sure, maybe that business doesn’t need to actually be a business. There is a line that can be drawn. But most negative reviews are laughingly nonsensical. If you do have an issue – how about an old fashioned phone call or (gasp) a face-to-face with the owner about concerns you have, so they can be addressed without the permanent stain of an internet review? You know the ridiculous reviews I’m talking about, they read something like this: “If there was an option for zero stars that is what I would leave. First of all, I walked in the door and the shopkeeper didn’t even say hello. Are they too busy for their customers? Then, I was left to find the prices for the products all by myself, and I was expected to do math. Like I’m supposed to know what 50% off of $20 is? I will not be shopping here again.” I’m exaggerating. But some reviews are that laughable. “I’m giving this restaurant one star because I had to wait five minutes for my drink refill. The food was good, and I enjoyed the atmosphere, but I will not be made to wait. Who cares if they are busy?” Again, I’m exaggerating, but there are some picky reviewers out there, who write as if they have never made a mistake. Then there are just the violent, nonsense reviews. Like this dandy left on the Manchester Times review page: “Everyone at the Manchester Times is a hick, hillbilly, cousin-*******, pencil pushing, bunch of nosey *****. Get a real job you stop gossip fiending pieces of ****.” Well. That escalated quickly. And then there is this one: “What a waste, guess I should have smelled that stench in your breath…” What does that even mean? Moving forward, I hope everyone takes internet reviews with a grain of salt. And before leaving a negative one, I encourage you to carefully consider the relevance and impact of your keystrokes. Remember, we all make mistakes. –Josh Peterson is the publisher of the Manchester Times. He is a Tennessee Press Association award-winning writer and photographer. His column, “From the publisher’s desk” won TPA first-place honors for best personal humor column and best personal column. The National Newspaper Association named him “Top 30 Under 30” of newspaper professionals in 2016. He can be reached by email email@example.com or by telephone at 931-728-7577 ext. 105. Follow him on Twitter @joshpeterson29