I don’t care what you like. And I care what you don’t like. I’m not going to buy something just because you gave it 5 stars. And you are not going to stop me from buying something because you only gave it 1 star. Your opinion has lost all credibility. Its value has been completely diminished. It means nothing.
But it’s not your fault. It’s their fault. Those that tried to win the game by beating the system. They ruined their own credibility and the credibility of the system. And took us with them in the process.
Here’s How it Used to Be
I used to be able to go onto Amazon.com and find unbiased reviews of a book to determine if it was worth reading before buying it. Not anymore. Authors now put together launch teams that create dozens (if not hundreds) of inflated reviews well before the book is even launched to the public in an effort to build momentum.
I used to be able to go onto Yelp.com in order to find a good restaurant that I have never been to before. Not anymore. Legitimate reviews are now the minority. Outweighed by overwhelmingly positive or negative reviews. Reviews that have nothing to do with the food. Reviews like those received by registered Republican Scott Van Nuzer, owner of Big Apple Pizza in Florida, who gave President Obama a bear hug on camera and has since been the recipient of over 2,000 reviews. Half of which are 5 star reviews. Half of which are 1 star reviews. None of which are from people that actually ate his pizza.
I used to be able to search Google+ Local in order to find credible contractors and other service providers to hire for stuff like fixing my roof or mowing my lawn. Not anymore. Service providers build up their reputation by creating false positive reviews. And knock down their competitors by creating false negative reviews.
I used to be able to go onto Facebook and Twitter to find influencers in just about any field. These were people that stood out from the crowd. They had the attention of many. Enormous platforms that they built for themselves. Not anymore. With an increasingly high percentage of fake user accounts, bought likes, fabricated followings and software programs built to game the system, there is no way of knowing who has actually earned their following.
Nope. Not anymore.
So, How Do We Clean It Up?
We don’t. It’s too late. The flood gates have been opened. The Internet has been inundated with falsified information. And we’re too far gone to turn back now.
Sure, Facebook can try and remove fake accounts and likes. Yelp and Google can remove reviews that wreak of a lack of integrity. Amazon can monitor when and from where reviews come in. But the damage has already been done. It’s impossible to know what to believe any more. The system can’t be trusted.
And because of that, we are now on our own. Again.
Where Do We Go From Here?
It is up to us to determine what is good and what is not. What works and what doesn’t. What to do and what not to do.
Read a book because it sounds like it might be interesting, not because of how many stars it received. Go to a restaurant that makes you feel good when you walk inside, not because someone you never met before thought it was good. Hire the contractor that was thoughtful enough to wipe his feet before walking into your house and then answered all of your questions honestly and respectfully with integrity. Seek out people on Facebook or Twitter that add value. Maybe they make you laugh. Or inspire you. Or teach you something new. Or listen to you.
Take one big step backwards. Be an individual again. Start relying on yourself. Dust off your intuition. Listen to your gut. Experiment. Try new things.
Featured image courtesy of FRΛNCISCΛ licensed via Creative Commons.