Online Reviewing – the good and the bad of it


In the world of Internet you are a somebody. A critic, a philosopher, a photographer, an actor, a movie producer, just about everything. I am a newbie food reviewer. I am so close to being a book reviewer as well considering that I read a book daily but it’s my 5-year stint as a student of English literature that stops me from being that.  I don’t want to relive those college moments. I am also so close to being a hotel reviewer with all my frequent random travels.

It is a good feeling when you see your reviews being read by hundreds of strangers and many of them who then ‘like’ and ‘follow’ you on those websites. You feel more responsible for your reviews. You feel empowered. There are times when the management of the joint replies to your review explaining why so and so had happened. Gone are the days when you would simply read and go by a professional critics’ review. They can be utterly biased. The place knows that a professional critic is there at its domain or possibly it has invited the critic. So that critic will be in all likelihood treated like a royalty.

However, the trouble with a just-about-any critic begins when the critic in you overtakes your normal being. So every time I enter a food joint, even if it’s just for a drink, it is at the back of my mind that I have to check the interiors out, possibly take pictures of the place and even of the sole drink and of course then upload it on the website along with my elaborate review.

I have gone past the stage where I simply stroll into a food joint just to have some good time. My eyes are scanning for every minute details that are happening in my surrounding. And God forbid if my coffee is rubbish! Somebody like me who would earlier have just had the drink politely or even left it with a demure comment made to the barista is now fuming internally about it and that politeness is turned to arrogance on the Internet as I know that unlike before where only a few would have known of my experience are now multiplied into hundreds and even thousands of viewers – those thousands that live far-far away from where I had experienced my tiny little episode that now seemed like a nightmare (well, some really are!), who would possibly never even show up to such a city leave alone the cafe!

So the other day when I went for a reunion with a couple of friends I actually rang up a friend of mine the next day to ask her experience with the dish she had ordered. Her simple reply of ” oh baby, it was so good” was not sufficient for me. I interrogated her further. Was the bread hard? Was the topping tasty? Fresh? Tangy?  Was it just enough hot or cold? Well, I don’t know what she made of me but from her voice she seemed nonplussed. Good means good!

Internet is a good place to share your awful and amazing experiences with the world. However, the days of simply enjoying a book or food or just anything and just sharing them with a few friends have seen their days.  The word of mouth is no longer just of the mouth.

(The above image is snapped by me of a local restaurant that I frequent often and yes, I recently reviewed it too!)