It used to be that criticism belonged to the ranks of five classes of people – professional critics, impartial consumer product reviewers, your mother, your best girlfriend, and your in-laws.
Now, thanks to the Internet, everybody’s a critic. Everybody with a bone to pick — informed or terribly ill-informed — is a critic.
You can ding short-staffed restaurants, struggling retailers, and barely-managing masseurs on Yelp; you can demolish drivers on Uber and Lyft, and you can anonymously trash-talk people on all sorts of social media websites. It’s a scary Internet world.
For a long time, I ignored casual “citizen” reviewers. If I wanted to know what somebody thought, I wanted to know what somebody-in-the-know knew and opined. If I needed a theater or a movie review, I opened The New York Times Arts and Book Review sections. If I needed a new toaster or vacuum cleaner, I turned to Consumer Reports.
If I needed confirmation that my husband was an insensitive clod, I asked my mother (although she generally sided with my husband). If I thought I looked fat, I’d ask my girlfriend for a hasty assurance that I was mistaken.
But now I know that everything is reviewed online, even you, even me! Read more