giving reviews

How Reviews and Feedbacks Affects your Life

“Let’s check out the new coffee place at the corner!” I chirped in from behind my book Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak. As what seemed like always, Dan was busy moving his thumb across the screen of his smartphone from bottom to top, and it took him ten long seconds to reply back with a “Hmm”.

Dan is a technology freak who feels strangulated if he doesn’t find his phone for ten minutes, and I am someone who, however inconvenient it may appear, carries a Nokia 1100 even today, for the sake of dear simplicity and peace of mind! “Of course, but let me see how much Zomato has given it. Otherwise we can check out the Vintage Coffee House they have rated five star last week.”

In the next half an hour, we were on our way to Vintage Coffee House, guided by the  all pervading voice of the Google Maps. I turned on the radio and started surfing through the channels to find a soft romantic number somewhere. The radio somehow always gives this warm feeling of being with the city, that so many people have tuned into the same frequency and are grooving to the same music. Dan was bored, “Here let me put the weekly top 15 list in Saavn. That would be the best music in town right now.” He said, hitting the bluetooth icon on his phone.

“Wow. What car is that?”, I exclaimed as a sleek luxury sedan drove past us like a dream. “Seems to be a new car. Here, please open Cardekho for me and type this car’s name honey, I am trying to read the model.”, he slipped his phone in my hands, careful not to drop it.

We reached this place without much ado. Zomato was happy. At least happier than me in this case. It was sort of an old world charm themed cafe, and they had dimly lit lanterns and Bohemian wood furniture to go with it. The menu was an authentic mix of Italian, Mexican and Chinese, with names rather in comprehensive. We ordered a Mexican black burger and a VC special coffee as Swiggy showed these were the bestsellers.

“How much rent would the owners be shelling out for this place?”, I wondered out aloud. “Hmm, give me a moment”, mumbled my husband as he instantly clicked on the Magikbricks application on his home screen. In the next two minutes, I was apprised of not only the realty prospects of this and the neighbouring areas, but also how feasible it would be to buy, sell or rent property here.

“So, what about the Lansdowne trip I had proposed last month? Did you do the background checks? Aunty said it’s cool for a long weekend.” I inquired. “Yeah I did. Lonely Planet and Trip Advisor both have given it a thumbs up, and the hotels are a plus too, I checked on Trivago. I think we can go ahead with it next month”, he declared.

“And how is the new couple doing?”, I asked about his best friend who had just started dating a girl he met on Tinder. “They’re doing fine. He had done enough research about her beforehand.” “Huh?” I asked “Facebook is after all a review website for people’s hearts and minds; and Linkedin that of their professional acumen. He had made sure they scored well on emotional and professional compatibility. Once bitten, twice shy!”

“Baby, would you mind keeping the phone aside for a while? I am so jealous of having it between us all the time!”, I said with all the innocence and pity I could muster on my puppy face. “Oh! I am so sorry. Here it is!”, he kept his phone upside down on the table and proclaimed his undivided attention. “ Here, now tell me which movie this weekend?” I gave a smug victorious smile, which was suddenly cut short, because I realised that we had no option but to open Bookmyshow to decide that. Laughing, he took his phone from the table and shrugged at my poor dejected self.

“You know this book I am reading”, I began again, “It’s about this mystic Sufi saint called Rumi. Have you heard of him?” I peeped into his screen and saw he was already checking out the review of the same book on Mouthshut. That was it. I lost my patience, “I am sitting in person and telling you something, but you won’t listen, and all you are interested in is what other people have to say about it! Isn’t that weird Dan?”

The bill had been paid, and it wouldn’t have been very dramatic if I dashed out angrily and sat in the car. I did the same and Dan followed me with an apologetic demeanour. “Listen, I am extremely sorry to have hurt you darling, but I was just trying to add to what you were trying to tell me. You see our lives have been totally hijacked by technology now, and we need to look up the net for every single thing! I know you don’t like it, but it’s inevitable, didn’t you just see it?

Perhaps we have become so obsessed with perfection that we do not like to be surprised anymore. We do not like to ask people or have their opinions, which may be quite in contrast to ours. We have been trained to trust the virtual world more than the real world. We want nothing but the best we can have, average is no more cool.

It may be a fear of the unknown or a penchant for playing safe. Gone are the days when people asked for directions and ended up sharing a laugh. Gone are the days when word of mouth was the only publicity. Like it or not, but this little thing here, it is our decision maker, it is our memory.” As he was holding my hand, I saw it in his eyes that he was helpless. He really wanted to make up for unintentionally rubbing me the wrong way, and I as always, relented.

“Yes Dan, reviews are creating a placebo effect on us, did you realise? I whispered,  “We feel relaxed despite all odds, this is the decade where we trust words from strangers- we might not believe what our spouse or parents are saying, but we do trust the five or three twinkling yellow stars. We might not know where the north pole is but we do know where these stars are taking us.” Dan chuckled. “Are we trapped inside the black hole where distant stars pull us by the gravity of trust and follower-ship? We are in a dilemma, on one side we talk about superstitions and on the other side we get influenced by the stars. Stars are controlling our inner emotions and resources. Stars are being used to convince strangers and customers, while we boast about blockchain and artificial intelligence! One star on your service will give you toxic stress and anxiety.

Think back in time when you made big mistakes trusting the stars. You triggered your brain, used your wisdom and insights, dug your intuitions and common sense, and cultivated a greater awareness in the process. Our mothers asked, ‘taaza hai bhaiya?, rang to nahi milaya?’ and used all five senses while buying what they were spending their bucks on. Now, we buy what a certain Shahrukh tells us to, and what an Amitabh vouches for.”

Dan realised the topic had become slightly grim and hung his head in confusion. We are spoilt for choices, and we have nowhere to go. Our minds have become conditioned to look for more, hence  losing the precious treasure called contentment.

The sweet little fairy of satisfaction that lived with our grandparents in their small homes, saved them from a lot of troubles we are currently facing; namely depression, behavioral anomalies, loneliness and lack of purpose. We are so immersed in choosing the best every single time, that getting anything but the best considerably pulls down the image we have of ourselves. Our need for validation and praise has attained humongous proportions, and is eating into our psychological well- being.

We reached home and Dan had visibly resigned to my painfully strong arguments. Not that he would be able to do anything about it, we resolutely decided to end the weekend on a happy note. “Lets watch a web series.”, I suggested. “Sure, lovely idea”, Dan was trying to be chivalrous. So we freshened up and hopped into the bed. We looked at each for an uneasy twenty seconds and then burst out laughing, “ Yeah yeah,I know we need IMDB for this..”