Vain, selfish, attention-hungry: Some TripAdvisor reviewers should grow up

Norfolk chef Charlie Hodson has had some bad experiences with TripAdvisor. Picture: Adam Livingstone

Norfolk chef Charlie Hodson has had some bad experiences with TripAdvisor. Picture: Adam Livingstone/Woodfordes - Credit: Archant

I was chatting to a barber the other day while he was sculpting and oiling my beard.

Tripadvisor logo. Picture: Supplied

Tripadvisor logo. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Supplied

We skipped the 'so, where did you go on holiday?' and went for the jugular - TripAdvisor.

Most of the time it's ok, said the said barber, who shall now be known as Damon. Usually, people come in, have their tresses teased, get some product worked in, pay their money and give a four- or five-star review.

But, said Damon, then you get the mavericks - for example, a chap who was trimmed, manicured, oiled and sculpted, joined in with the badinage, left a 30pc tip - then posted a scathing one-star TripAdvisor review.

Others are trying to find fault from the first moment, wheedling out – often non-existent – issues to write about.

What is the matter with people?

This sort of behaviour is a symptom of the modern need for attention and online gratification (no, not that).

Most Read

People's lives have to be public: this is me in my new jeans; I've checked into Lotus Position Chinese; read my review of a high school production of Oliver!; watch my Facebook Live of paint drying; look at my Instagram photos (which look nothing like me because they've been treated); follow me; like me; rate me; LOVE ME!!

I have news for those of you who collect 'likes' and demand attention – you are not the story. You are just a grain of sand on the beach.

Unfortunately, your significance can be inversely proportional to your impact. Small fry = big nuisance.

The Norfolk chef Charlie Hodson has spoken out about the dark side of TripAdvisor, saying it 'destroys lives'. And it does – it wrecks businesses, costs jobs and triggers mental ill-health.

Sadly, our obsession with living our lives online and on social media has inured us to the impact on human beings. When a review of a restaurant is posted, it is often done without considering the people who own and work in the business.

With a little embellishment, some artistic licence, cutting comments and a flurry of exclamation marks, the review becomes the story – and the restaurant takes collateral damage.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, your selfish, vain and 'look at me' review has triggered anxiety and depression among people working up to 100 hours a week to build a reputation – only to have it damaged in a few minutes.

Reviews are subjective. One person's delicious is another's disgusting: one's great service is another's overbearing.

If you have a problem, the mature way to deal with it is by talking to the front of house manager or the chef - face-to-face, human-to-human.

The coward's way is to pretend it's fine then write a sneaky TripAdvisor review.

How clever you must feel as the comments flood in. But how pathetic you are for doing the cyber equivalent of talking behind someone's back.

I wouldn't be sorry to see the back of review websites, but that is not going to happen. There will always be a hunger to find out how a hotel/cafe/restaurant is rated before we book, and it certainly helps us to avoid the hellholes.

But wouldn't it be nice if everybody rating or reviewing, did so with the faces of the staff in their mind? It's much harder to cut someone down at the knees if you are looking into their eyes.

Alternatively, how about this for revolutionary? Go to a restaurant, eat your meal, pay, go home, post nothing.

For the needy among us, the message is simple. If you post on TripAdvisor to get attention – shut up and grow up.