We’re awash in a world of rankings – but is acquiring the best hair dryer or washing machine always worth the effort? Writer and critic Rachel Connolly joins host Krys Boyd to discuss the best-of lists we consume to make sense of our lives and how we use them to gain a false sense of control over a world with limitless choice. Her piece in The New York Times Opinion section is “The Tyranny of ‘the Best.”
Yelp is helpful, but don’t discount your own review
By Aislyn Gaddis, Think Intern
Product ratings and restaurant reviews are mostly subjective, but other people’s opinions might be influencing your own more than you realize.
Guest Rachel Connolly says that when people leave a review, what they write is influenced by what’s already there.
“If I go somewhere that’s rated a four, I wouldn’t rate it a five because I’m thinking ‘Well other people said it was a four, so it’s probably a four,’” Connolly said. “An early low rating can kind of be really self-reinforcing.”
The reverse can also be true.
“If I went to a place that was rated four stars and I thought it was really good, I’d be like: ‘Have I missed something? Am I not sophisticated enough to understand why this isn’t five stars?’” Connolly said.
Connolly says we’ve started to see subjective things as having a right answer.
“We start to think ‘Oh, there is an objective answer for this. There’s an objective answer that I should probably abide by or I’m a bit of an idiot,’” Connolly said.
In other words, we shouldn’t think we’re wrong for liking what we like and just be comfortable with a difference of opinion.
“I think there’s that sense of like ‘Well, if I didn’t like it, am I the problem?’” Connolly said.
On the other hand, people who dislike something very popular might be seen as superior.
“Liking something that’s generally thought of as bad almost infers that your taste is inferior,” Connolly said. “But not liking something that’s generally thought of as good is almost implying that you’re looking for something even better than they’re looking for, that your standards are higher and you’re more discerning.”
To learn about how best-of lists and reviews influence us, listen to the podcast above.