arts, movies, music, pop culture

the art of the review

If you ever have some time to kill, and by kill I mean waste absolutely and thoroughly, pick a random item for sale and read all the reviews. And by all I mean just ten. I dare you to get through ten whole reviews.

I find it so amusing, and by amusing I also mean infuriating and painful, to see how very different people come up with very different opinions on the same exact thing. I recently was looking for a solar battery for camping. The options are astounding. The reviews are a whirlwind of astoundment. This battery doesn’t work. This battery works. This battery is heavy and hard to use. This battery is great to pack and easy to set up. This battery blew up my house. This battery burst into flames. This battery grew into a tree overnight.

How do you take reviews? How do you leave reviews? Do you bother?

I generally don’t. When I am particularly happy with something, I tell people about it, but I don’t usually post anything any where. I think it’s pretty pointless. And maybe that’s what I’m getting at. Reviews are deceiving and full of contradictions. Eventually, like the Oracle said in The Matrix, you have to make up your own damn mind.

But we do expect a lot, don’t we? We’re consumers from day one. We are forced into a lifetime, a servitude if you will, to consumerism. Just by being American. American is synonymous with consumer. And as a result, we leave reviews. Constantly. About everything. We like to call it critical thinking, but we have trended toward leaving the thinking part out for the critical part. Everyone’s a critic. Every. One. We’re critical about our food, our clothes, our cars, our roads, our restaurants, our coffee, our governments, our tv shows, the list is endless.

It’s the criticisms of people that get to me. It really should get to all of us and I think it does. I think it works itself out as anger and frustration and bitterness and road rage. Sidenote: I have a theory that I will know everything I need to know about your personality by being a passenger in your car. The kind of driver you are speaks volumes about you as a person. I have been completely surprised by how people are as drivers when the rest of their lives they seem to be very different. It’s fascinating to me. Someone needs to do that research. Someone else.

What if there was a review section on you? Kind of like LinkedIn where people leave recommendations and act as references to your skills and achievements. But what if I tell you that we all have a running thread in our heads on everyone we know and others have a review section on you?!

I’ve thought about what kind of review I want people to have of me. I’ve thought about that every single interaction. I try to – dear Jesus, help me – and I pray to keep in front of my thoughts and deep in my soul the fact that I am a flawed, sinful, selfish being and that’s my default. I try to remember that my life was not given and redeemed so that I can be happy and have a perfect life. I’ve thought about how I see everything through a filter, a lens that doesn’t stay clean and clear by itself, and that often I am not considering my own prejudices, experiences, and insecurities in my assessment of a situation or a relationship. Who am I listening to? Who influences my thinking? Do I have an opinion of someone else based solely on my own experience/interactions and well-read knowledge of human behavior? Ok, that last part was facetious. But maybe that’s my point. We have notions. We have very general notions and we harp on them. We let these ideas inform us and turn into the way we treat and think of people.

Now it isn’t to say that you must be a people pleaser at all costs or that you are always completely wrong. This is a struggle some of us have. We are always trying to gather consensus, create buy-in, insert other business jargon here. We want very much to be liked and to get everyone to be pleased and happy. Impossible, we know, but still a goal. But this isn’t about making people happy with us. It’s about pointing people to truth and goodness and, ultimately, to Jesus.

How do you review others? Are you kind? Do you write people off? Are you balanced in your criticisms of other people and their behaviors? Do you consider all the facts? Do you take into consideration the kind of person you are and what your expectations are? Like using a product that you haven’t used before, are you quick to make accusations or did you not read all the instructions?

What kind of review would others leave for you? Are you willing to hear what they have to say and take it under careful consideration? The best reviews I’ve seen on Amazon are those that are answered by Customer Service for that product who say we will refund your money or give you something in exchange. And then they ask for feedback or suggestions. They enter into the critique and say, we want to hear it and we want to learn. Am I that kind of person? Even through anger and tears? Can I lay myself down so that others can help build me up?

So, I’m off to buy a beach shelter for our trips to the beach. I’d like to read more reviews, but I think we’re going to just go ahead and buy one and be done with it. Learning to be content is a whole ‘nother blog post for another day…

and thanks to xkcd.com for always hitting it on the head…

 

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