The Importance of Reviews

 Ever notice how much our culture is dominated by the concept of reviews? I started thinking about this yesterday, as I was soliciting my Twitter timeline on reviews of facial products. I was looking for feedback on Kiehl's and Clinique products, because I was thinking about purchasing but I was hesitant. I was looking for some feedback from current/former users - either a "love it!" or a "it sucks! save your money" type warning. I did get the feedback I was looking for, and made a decision, but I started pondering the idea of reviews.

Ever really thought about how prevalent the idea of reviews is in our society? You see it everywhere. There are millions of people making a career out of reviewing things, from music to movies to restaurants to books to contractors - you name it, there's someone out there reviewing it. Informally, people share reviews of products & services with their peer group every day. It can be as simple as "liking" a company, product or brand on Facebook, or saying "I liked that movie" to a friend when they inquire. Or it could go as far as posting a review on a site like Yelp or even writing a blog post.

The reviewing process is even involved in dating, relationships & sex. Folks joking talk about "bad dick reports" or "running resumes" (a term I heard in Florida), but that stuff actually happens. How many times have you seen Friend A talk to Friend B about a person they were interested in dating? Friend A wanted to get a review first on the person, before the date. Just like how some people won't go see a movie without a review, some folks make the same decision when it comes to dating.

At first glance, it would seem like having so many reviews out there about so many topics would be a good thing. People want to share their experiences, and reviews help highlight what things folks should buy/use/etc and what things they should avoid. But fundamentally, there's a flaw in the review process, and it's the fact that everyone doesn't share the same experience. Two people can go to the same restaurant, have the same meal served by the same waiter, and come away with two completely different views of the restaurant. Two people can use the same product & have a completely different experience with it. Thus, what works for Person A may not work for Person B, even though they seem to be the same or similar. This becomes even more apparent in areas where reviews are based on subjective things like what a person likes. Person A and Person B can go see the same movie & come away with two totally different interpretations & opinions, simply based on their difference interests, taste levels & and what they like.

This same idea applies to getting reviews on who to date. Not only does everyone not share the same experience, but it also negates the idea that people can and do change over time. The guy who broke your heart when you were 18 is probably not the same man now at 28 (and if he is, he has bigger problems). The woman who made bad choices at 22 hopefully isn't still making those same bad choices at 32. People grow and mature, and while sharing your experience with someone is valid, it should be taken with a grain of salt.

Given how important and prevalent reviews are in our society, it's possible to not make a single decision in your life without a review first, and that includes matter of the heart. But even if you gather all the reviews in the world & evaluate, how do you make the final decision? No amount of feedback and data will make the decision for you, ultimately that is left to each person. How much stock do you put into the reviews and how much stock do you put into your intuition? Or is it simply about trying it yourself & learning from your own experiences?

How much faith do you put into reviews? Are they necessary for you to make a decision? Or do you only need reviews when it comes to "big" things? Are there certain reviewers you always trust, no questions asked? And when it comes to dating, do you give reviews on your ex's? Would you solicit a review on a person you were interested in?