In the old days, you could tell whether you were an optimist or pessimist based on how you felt about an otherwise ambivalent glass of water. In the modern internet age, things have changed completely. Now you learn about yourself based on which online reviews you read first — positive or negative.
By this criterion, I’m the most pessimistic person on the planet. I make Eeyore look like Rainbow frigging Brite.
It doesn’t matter what I’m looking at or which corner of the web I’m on. Amazon, Yelp, ConsumerReports, Steam, IMDB… they’re all the same. I log in and make a grim frowny beeline right to the one-star bitchfests. The all-caps rants. The loudmouth “why doesn’t this site have negative numbers?” and “that’s two hours of my life I’ll never have back” crapdumps.
“I make Eeyore look like Rainbow frigging Brite.”
This is not good for the soul. But it is good, I tell myself, for making buying decisions.
The way I figure it, I know what I think I like about a movie or a restaurant or a pack of plaid cotton underpants. That’s how I ended up on the page in the first place. Sure, on the surface, everything seems fine. But how am I wrong?
Let’s face it. I’m not all that bright. I’ve got questionable taste, an unrefined palate and I wear gray and brown together on a regular basis. Even if it’s usually only in the plaid pattern of my bulk-pack underpants.
The point is, I’m easily fooled. I’m taken in my shiny things and glitzy ads and my own naive fantasy that maybe there’s something lurking in this world that will make existence a little less bleak and bewildering. And that maybe that thing is a pair of new sneakers or a really good plate of pad thai.
But I’m probably wrong. As usual. So I rely on the negative Nancies and bitchy Barts of the internets to tell me why. If their belligerent bellyaching can talk me out of my target, then good for them. And for me. I was never going to enjoy that whatever-it-was, anyway. I might as well save my money and stay home and go without. And eat worms. Or something.
And if the negatives can’t overwhelm my enthusiasm? If the weight of an entire world of snotty fourteen-year-olds calling “lame” and “weak” and “hated it” don’t dissuade me? Then I buy the thing or make the reservation or play the game I had my heart set on, with the loftiest and most hopeful of expectations.
Which just extends the fantasy a little longer, until I find out for myself that it was actually kind of “meh“. Sometimes, I think about writing a review of my own to the same effect. But what’s the point, really? Nobody pays attention to negative reviews.
Well, not enough attention, anyway. Or maybe that’s just me being pessimistic. I’ll do that, you know. That Pollyanna Eeyore could learn a thing or two from me.