Why I leave good reviews whenever I can

Is it just me, or are people more sensitive on the internet these days? Seems like I can’t read a well-meaning Facebook post, tweet, or casual Instagram post anymore without at least one person taking offense or feeling the need to counter-argue what was said, no matter how benign.

Sometimes offense, contradicting, and calling out error is important and worth it. But I fear we’ve blurred the lines on when it’s necessary.

Social media has made people more reactive. They speak their mind rapid-fire and walk away without feeling the consequence on the other side. They say things on a screen they’d never in a million years say on a screened-in porch, drinks in hand and chatting with a real-live human.

As a reader, it’s enough to wipe me out. As a citizen, it’s enough to cause me to sigh about our course of civilization. As a content-creator, it’s enough to make me pause before I hit publish on anything. Is saying this worth the potential negativity? It’s exhausting, creativity-draining.

Which is why I do this one simple thing to counteract all the online hate—and, well, at least make me feel better:

I leave good reviews. Anytime I can.

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Social proof” is the psychological concept whereby something gains traction because it seems like it’s already gotten traction. We deal with it all the time offline—when the drive-through line for that coffee barn snakes down the street, we assume it must be good coffee. If six people on separate occasions tell us we have to go see that movie, we’ll finally go see it.

Online, it’s even more tangible. We’ll read a post that has hundreds of comments because clearly it’s already gotten attention. Between two books on the same topic, we’ll most likely assume the one with more positive reviews is more reputable. If your close friend, your Uncle Al, and the president of your kid’s PTA all share the same Facebook post, we’ll stop to read or watch it.

Like it or not, social proof matters. And we can take part by spreading the love.

Leave good reviews—it makes the world a happier place, and it takes two minutes out of your day.

• If your favorite local diner continually blows it out of the water with great service and fantastic food, leave them a quick five-star review on Yelp.

• If someone’s Instagram feed continually brings you joy, tell them so in a comment.

• If you love a podcast but have never said so, take two minutes and leave a good review on iTunes.

• If you’ve never left a positive review for your favorite books on Amazon, make a quick effort to do so (this author shamelessly thanks you).

• If your coffee joint made you another great drink, toss an extra dollar in the tip jar.

Give these things you love some social proof that’ll fuel their work and their art.

And if something bothers you—a Facebook post, a blog post, a YouTube video, a tweet—and calling it out won’t change the course of our civilization or change the creator’s mind, then please walk by. Ignore. Move on with your life.

Leave good reviews—it makes the world a happier place, and it takes two minutes out of your day.

Here’s the thing about this, too: it’s good for you. Negativity breeds negativity; you can feel it in your bones. Pausing to share why you love something? It’ll make your day.

The internet can be a beautiful place, and I hate to see it turn sour. Please stop spreading negativity just for the heck of it, and even better—take a few minutes out of your day to spread some love. It’ll make that author/entrepreneur/artist/blogger/musician/small business owner’s day. I promise.

It’ll make our virtual neighborhood an overall better place. One kind word at a time.

p.s. Customer service shalom will make someone’s day.

p.p.s. My e-course, Upstream Field Guide, will be part of the next ultimate bundle sale—which means it’s going to be crazy cheap for about a week. Sign up to be notified when it goes live, and you won’t miss it.

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38 Comments

  1. Christine

    This was so refreshing to read! And I don’t comment enough to say that I LOVE your blog! Thank you for all the genuine posts and inspiration. 🙂

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Aw, thank you, Christine!

  2. Betsy

    Boy, this is so true. I am amazed at the negative atmosphere that people create. There seems to be so many people that feel their opinion is the only one that matters and there is little regard for how others feel. I’m not on social media…..I use to be but then it became a chore. I read all sorts of blogs….political, cooking, home decor……I am constantly surprised by the mean spirit of some postings in the comment section. Filters seem to be gone.

  3. Sarah

    Yay! Thank you for saying this today.

  4. Alexis

    Amen to this! I deleted my facebook account a couple of years ago because of the negativity. I would see something someone would say that I knew they’d never say to someone’s face and I would feel depressed for the remainder of the day. It wasn’t worth it. Thanks for the nudge that we should counteract with positive comments. I’m off to fill my quota for the day now 😉

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Go forth and fill that quota!

  5. Susan

    Thank you for this post. Good thoughts.

  6. Joey

    Yes! Wonderful post! And I will leave my first comment here to say I love your blog. 🙂

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thanks, Joey!

  7. Carrie Willard

    I have noticed this too. And yes, it is discouraging for us as writers. I blame the culture of political correctness. The ultimate sin nowadays is saying something that could possibly offend anyone. The result is that people feel entitled to share their opinion no matter how ignorant, hateful or tactless. Because it’s their”right”.

    I’m reminded of the proverb that says “the taking of offense lies in the bosom of the stupid one”.

  8. Kelli

    I love this. Years ago, when I first started engaging on social media, I made the mistake too often of sharing my mind. I got caught up in the hype of it all. Then I got tired, and maybe a little wisdom set in with age. Either way, I find that I’d much rather walk away than engage at this point. Mainly because I know how all the negativity affects me – has even hurt me in recent months. I don’t want to be part of that problem. I’d rather bring a smile if at all possible. 🙂

    Thanks for bringing a smile today, Tsh!

  9. Barb

    Ths – I share the same sentiments about all you have said in this article. Thank you for encouraging us to make a positive impact. 🙂

    • Barb

      Correction – Tsh

  10. Jessica Graham

    Yes! What a lovely post. I am a firm believer that: The world is changed by your example, not your opinion. Instead of just going around saying negative things, we’ll make greater strides by doing something positive.

  11. Sarah

    Very Inspiring, I’m starting right now by telling you great job!

  12. Jen

    What a great reminder. I love leaving positive reviews online. Thank you!

  13. Gina

    SO true! Especially: “They say things on a screen they’d never in a million years say on a screened-in porch, drinks in hand and chatting with a real-live human.”. It used to be a few drinks would give you that false bravado (beer muscles). Looks like now there’s an epidemic of ‘Web Muscles’ out there! And please know that if you don’t hear from us, it’s still a thumbs up! :o)

  14. Linda Sand

    One of the reasons I so enjoy reading your blog is how often you express and confirm my thoughts and feelings. I was not even aware how often I leave compliments until a blogger asked me if I’m always this happy. I’m not in person but I do tend to say thanks to anyone who does me the least favor. Maybe that’s why my husband takes such good care of me?

  15. Sarah

    Amen! I realized when reading this that I almost never say negative things online, but I don’t often leave positive feedback either. Even if I have read something that I loved, I don’t often say it. I want to do better!

  16. Beth

    Good post! I think perhaps you should write one on how to respectfully comment “negatively.” Or how to respectfully share a different opinion. I really try to disagree in a way that I would find respectful enough to say in public, to the person with other people listening. But I hadn’t thought about the power of positive comments. I guess I just pictured them as cluttering the comments section with unnecessary “back-patting.” But you’ve given me something to think about. Both about the social proof phenomenon and how the author feels. Thank you! I plan to leave more positive comments.

  17. Emily

    I spy a smiley face in your coffee foam.

    Thanks for being an encouragement to me today. It’s just as easy to be an anonymous source of sunshine as it is to snipe at people from our own insecurities. And I think brightening another person’s day is waaay more fun.

    Thanks for all you write here.

  18. Nicola O.

    One of the things they teach at my kids’ school is “THINK” before you say it:

    -is it True
    -is it Helpful
    -is it Important
    -is it Necessary
    -is it Kind

    If it fails one or more counts, maybe keep it to yourself. Or at least THINK twice about saying it.

  19. Leslie

    Oh this is so true. I have often asked myself how Tsh can take all the criticism that any writer inevitably has to take. Case in point was a podcast where she interviewed a remarkable woman. This woman got rid of almost everything she has, moved to a poor foreign country, LEARNED THE DIFFICULT AND OBSCURE LANGUAGE, and works in service of these people every day with her family. This woman is a beauitful and holy example of giving herself so totally. And a few people wrote “I don’t like the picture of her appearing in the native dress of that country”. Come on, people.

  20. Kate @ Mom's Radius

    What do you do when you experience bad service or read a book that wasn’t very good? I write a lot of book reviews – good and bad. I enjoy reading negative reviews because it prevents me from wasting my time with a book I likely won’t enjoy. I wouldn’t count that as spreading negativity so much as warning people to beware.

    • Suzy Taylor Oakley

      Most of the book reviews I write are positive, or I don’t write them (book reviews aren’t my bread and butter, so I can pick and choose). I can think of one book that I didn’t like so well but appreciated the author’s good intentions. I tried to accentuate the things I liked about the book and make the less-positive things not seem so bad. I think you can point out things that aren’t great without trashing the other person or thing.

  21. Hannah

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Tsh! I definitely am quicker sometimes to criticize than to praise, both online and as a teacher. It’s good to remember how much benefit a good word can do you and your neighbor!

  22. Abbie

    Yes! This works great in life and online!

  23. Natalie

    Thank you for this. I agree, and always see benefits when encouraging someone. I very rarely comment on blogs, though, even when I’m moved by a post. I guess I figured the bloggers don’t read them- silly, I know. This post reminded me to do it anyway, and comment, leave a good review, thank someone for great service, etc and not worry if the receiver responds or not. By the way, I always look ok forward to receiving your posts in my inbox. I value your wisdom add thoughts 🙂

    • Natalie

      Oops- Typing from my phone while in a hurry caused me to have a few typos!

  24. Natalie W

    Tsh, you are as refreshing as ever. Your site is my haven on the Internet for well-written and relevant posts. Thanks so much for all you do!

  25. Cyndi

    This makes me so very happy. Thank you.

  26. Kelly S

    Thanks for this! I was looking up my daughter’s ballet studio the other day to give them a call, and noticed that their Yelp reviews were pretty low. We’ve had a wonderful experience with them, so with the words of this post ringing in my ears (is that possible for something I’ve only read silently?? 🙂 ) I took a moment to leave them a kind and honest review. 🙂 Now trying to think what else I can review nicely.

  27. Suzy Taylor Oakley

    This week I started participating in an Instagram challenge called #randomloveletters. The aim is to spread positivity every day in June by leaving a little note somewhere in public, snap a picture and post it to IG. (Leave it in a library book, on a counter, someone’s door, etc.)

    I have never had so much fun coming up with positive things to say about/to someone and trying to sneak a sticky note in when they’re not looking! Last night I got caught(!) and it ended in a really nice conversation. Also, I’ve shared the posts to FB and made them public, and they’re some of my most popular posts.

    This IG challenge has been a great exercise in positivity. If you want to see what I’ve done so far, find me at @oakleysuzyt (This is NOT an attempt to get you to follow me. I’m just having so much fun, I want to share it!)

    Thank you for your post, Tsh. I agree wholeheartedly!

  28. Suzy Taylor Oakley

    Correction: The hashtag is #randomloveletter (without an “s”).

  29. Shauna

    Such a good reminder. Thank you for sharing this!

  30. Fridah

    This is so nice and definately will recommend it to my friends. I like how you are spot on with issues that really linger in my thoughts. Keep up the good work.

  31. Jonnie :)

    Tsh~just a brief note to let you know how very much I have and still enjoy your writing and encouragement.
    I receive so much joy in your family stories and adventures.
    Gardening. YES! A perfect place to release frustration and anger and a perfect place for new beginnings and harvest to share.
    I especially enjoyed your gardening article. Thank you and God Bless You.
    Appreciative, Jonnie

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