Palate Pleasures – Everyone is a Critic

Comments (0) Palate Pleasures

Back in the olden days, silence was golden.

Communication was limited to exchanges on street corners, snail mail and town criers. Later on came telephone, radio and then TV, transmitting vital and not so vital information across the globe quickly and easily.

For the most part though, the lines of communication were not a 24 hour a day stream. Even the TV went off the air around midnight.

When you had something to say, there was more time to say it. And forms of correspondence came from a more considered place, where you thought about what you were going to say before you said it. Indeed, all the steps involved in writing a letter were conducive to thoughtful contemplation, rather than rash spontaneity – the tactile medium of paper, the pen – especially the kind that had to be dipped in ink, the attention to correct spelling and grammar pre email era, the envelope, the stamp, the addressing, the trip to the post office …

An envelope slipped into a post box could take anywhere between days and months to reach its destination. Letter writing was a serious business, where true love was declared in slow motion, financial matters established from one post office to another. Life changing news was waited for anxiously, every day’s journey to check the mail a minefield of emotion.

Those were the days.

Now with the click of a button, all the information we could possibly require is at our fingertips. I don’t need to extol the virtues of news online, Wikipedia, YouTube and Facebook here. Friends update their status, hearts are broken and financial transactions are conducted via text message – imagine that 10 years ago …

News travels at warp speed to all our devices – some of it vital, some of it not.

The sharing of information has become so easy that everyone can do it. Got something to say to the world? Start a blog. Got something to sell? Get a webpage with online merchant facilities. Peeved by something and want to protest? Create a group on Facebook, and no doubt you’ll find yourself surrounded by like-minded individuals. Had a not so fun night out at a restaurant or stayed in a hotel room you weren’t too keen on? Write a review on Eatability or Trip Advisor and find an instant outlet for your frustration.

I might add to the above paragraph by saying you can also use such tools as Eatability and Tripadvisor to say how much you enjoyed a restaurant or accommodation!

But for owners and operators, the open slather element of such online review systems can be somewhat unnerving.

Back in the snail mail days, if you were unhappy with an experience, you dealt with it there and then or you wrote a letter to the manager. Now, however, you can broadcast your complaint to the world using your smartphone while still seated in the offending establishment.

To set the record straight, I am by no means against online reviewing sites such as these. They are a valuable research tool when it comes to making an informed choice; however, I am still amazed that we haven’t seen the proliferation of reviewing when it comes to things like professional and medical services – the stuff that really matters!

But they certainly do have the capacity to be abused by the vindictive, or on the other hand, falsely beefed up by cohorts of the establishment in question. By no means should their verdicts and scores be taken as a gospel truth – rather, they should just be seen as a snapshot of a place, a vague impressionistic painting perhaps. Definitely not the be-all and end-all.

We are bombarded with so much information in today’s world that we need to sift through the relevant and the irrelevant with a fine tooth comb. We need to remember that although everyone is entitled to put in their two cents’ worth, individual interpretations of experience are completely subjective. It’s easy to get swept away by strong opinions, whether they are negative or positive.

Sometimes we just need to put away the PC, take a deep breath, think about what it would be like to compose a thoughtful, well written letter and just trust our instincts.

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