I have friends that leave reviews constantly. Liked the restaurant we ate at? Write a review on Yelp. Hated the movie we saw? A full rant is up on Facebook that night.
The phrase “Everyone’s a Critic” has never been truer. Between Amazon and Yelp and, I dunno, MoviePoopShoot, everyone can tell you exactly what they think about everything. Especially when we hate something. Then we cannot shut up about it.
Me, I’m opting out. I am no longer leaving bad reviews.
For me, writing a bad review is bossy. It’s saying, “I’ve decided, in my infinite wisdom, that no one else should like this book/bar/movie/album because it did not please me.” But tastes are subjective, and people have every right in the whole world to enjoy Ready Player One or The Force Awakens, even if I didn’t.
So why is it suddenly my job to tell people how I feel about something? Why does Amazon pester me with demands that I rate my experience with my new lipstick? It’s fine, I like it, so why am I now paying to be your marketing person? That’s what my rating is, right? It’s an advertisement for your product, couched in the First Amendment and our ingrained human desire for people to know our opinions on every single subject.
If I like a book, I buy someone I love a copy. If a meal makes me especially happy, I’ll leave a big tip and bring a friend to the restaurant for dinner. If I thought a movie was great, I’ll tell all my friends to go see it and won’t shut up about it. And I will, on occasion, leave a positive review, but generally only for friends, because it’s my way of helping to support their careers. I’m happy to advertise for them, but Disney has plenty of money to buy our love, so they don’t need to ask me to give it for free.
(And if my friend’s work is terrible, I tell them quietly, rather than embarrass them on the internet.)
It’s not my job or my civic duty to tell strangers about stuff I hate. I’m happy to have individual conversations with my friends, dissecting what I thought worked and what didn’t work (especially over drinks), but the world is a negative enough place as it is without me shouting into the void about Kylo Ren. Dippy as it sounds, I want to focus on the good things in life, not the bad. Let’s praise, rather than drag down. And let’s talk, rather than perch on a platform and holler.
If you didn’t like something, I’m truly sorry that you had a bad experience. I really am, and I hope the next book/movie/restaurant/album you spent time with is super-rad and you can praise it to the stars. Because you deserve awesome things that make you happy…so why waste another moment on something that made you miserable?