A lot of you are probably thinking. "Hey, I communicate to people every day: family, friends, co-workers, supervisors, sometimes complete strangers. What do you mean when you're telling me to try communicating?"
For starters, we're not talking about communication which is generally expected or required. (Give your significant other the silent treatment for an hour just because and tell me how THAT turns out.) Nor am I talking about simple courtesy conversations such as "Hey, how are you?" as you pass someone in the hall without stopping. I'm talking about real communication with real people for a specific purpose.
I suppose at this point, I should just lay out what I'm trying to communicate. Specifically, I'm talking about reviews. Reviews of books. Reviews of movies. Reviews of businesses. Most people probably never even give these kinds of things a second thought. They figure "Someone else will do it." or "Why bother?". A lot of reviews are written for specific reasons, such as exceptionally incredible service or the opposite, amazingly bad service. I feel that it's wrong that such an interesting communicative device such as reviews are casually tossed aside so often.
I was recently involved in a debate on the site www.Goodreads.com about the value of a one-star review. It's true that a one-star review of anything is typically a bad sign, but there is more to it than that. Now occasionally, you'll get people who have a bone to pick with a particular author or who will shun the book because it touches on a certain topic. Those kinds of reviews are typically explained using the phrase "This book is The Suck." Those kinds of reviews help nobody, along with the five-star reviews which only say "OMG!! This book ROXXXX!!"
Think about it. When you write a review for something, you are communicating your opinion to the people that make the product as well as to everyone who may use it. A review doesn't have to be a page and a half long, but a click of a mouse on the rating you want to give it and a short explanation as to why. It shouldn't matter if your rating is one-star, three-stars, or the full five-stars. Your review could be the deciding factor whether or not someone picks up that item or moves on to a different one. If you think something is great, tell the world so other people can discover it. If you think something is terrible, warn everyone and maybe you'll prevent someone else from wasting money on it. Even if something is ok, hit that three-star button and explain what was good and what was bad.
T-Rex eats a Lawyer. `Nuff said.
This is a large part of what communication was created for and why it helped propel us to the top of the food chain. We tell each other what is bad and should be avoided while telling people what is good and needs to be shared. If everyone left a review on things they bought or businesses they used, (despite how none of us would have any time left if we reviewed EVERYTHING we did) we could probably force the closure of bad businesses or companies that produce poor products by directing people away from them. Additionally, we could provide support for places that give great service or products but are struggling because they can't afford the massive ad campaigns big companies have.
So, this is what I'm asking of my readers. Think back over the past year. Think of something that stands out to you, whether it's a movie or a book, a restaurant or a local business. It can be good or bad. This is your chance to communicate and maybe even make a difference for someone else. Think of how you would rate that subject out of five-stars and why. Then go out into the ginormous(Seriously? That's a real word?) internet and post your review. Not only does it feel good to express your opinion like that, your opinion could be the deciding factor for someone who really needs it. If you don't know where to go, I've added some links below. Now, CHARGE! And communicate with the world!
When you're done, feel free to come back and leave a comment to where people can see your review, or if you're feeling particularly lazy, leave a review of this blog post.
www.Goodreads.com - Books
www.IMDB.com - Movies
www.Amazon.com - Pretty much anything you can buy
www.BBB.org - Better Business Bureau
www.Yelp.com - Businesses