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The Ugly Truth About Comments and Reviews That No One Knows

The Ugly Truth About Comments and Reviews That No One Knows

How much do you feel you’re influenced on a daily basis? Social media opens us up to comparison of others but what about our opinions? If you’re presented with a video or article, it’s hard not to read the plethora of comments posted underneath before we’ve even clicked on it.

Many times people read movie reviews on IMDB to decide whether or not they will watch a film. And many times people meticulously read customer reviews and ratings on Amazon before deciding to buy something.

In essence, we’re being made to create an opinion before we’ve had the chance to make our own. Most of the time it’s alarmingly unconscious.

The Dangers of Reading Comments and Reviews

While we think we’re reading comments to make a balanced and informed decision, we don’t take into account the intentions behind another person’s comments.

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Most of us only leave comments if we strongly agree or disagree with something, meaning that around 90% of the comments you read are left by either very loyal supporters or people who are emotionally charged in a negative way. Therefore, we need to take into account that these extreme opinions tend to be biased and not constructive.

Emotions can drive our decisions. They can easily interject into our daily situations quickly and with little thought. If we get a positive emotion (excitement or enthusiasm) or negative emotion (anxiety or worry) in any given circumstance where a decision can be made, we are highly influenced by that emotion.

A study was conducted in 2003 where a group of American citizens were asked to read either a fear-inducing news story about anthrax mail threats, or an anger-inducing news story about Middle Eastern nations celebrating the 9/11 attacks. The research found people who were put into an angry state saw the world as ‘less risky’ and therefore supported harsher measures against suspected terrorists.[1]

This illustrates that, when we read seemingly harmless yet influential comments, we really have no idea about the commenter or their emotional state while writing their opinion. We can easily read them as authentic comments but in reality this is a myth.

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An Unknown Conspiracy

How genuine are the comments you read? The opportunity to make money is unfortunately allowing businesses to create the power to alter our opinions and decisions.

Many companies actually employ people to create fake comments in order to influence a customer’s decision. Even worse, some employ people to write negative comments about their competitors in order to attack their reputation.

Don’t underestimate the power and knowledge big guns have on how to strategically sway customer’s ideas and decisions through simple reviews and ratings. While it’s not yet illegal, watchdogs are becoming increasingly alarmed at the amount of fake reviews currently out there on all major sites. It’s worrying when many of us trust what we’re reading and even make big purchases based on seemingly positive reviews.

How Not to Be Manipulated by Comments and Reviews

We need to be very vigilant when it comes to comments. Being aware of either fake comments or understanding the possible emotion used by the writer at that moment it was written is a first step.

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Don’t Be Quick to React to Comments

You may read a comment you don’t agree with and often in this case, anger may rise up. But commenting in this state is only adding to a biased view. How many times do our emotions cause us to act in a certain way only to feel differently once we’ve stepped back and evaluated things?

It’s best to react with as little emotion as possible or make them irrelevant to your decision. It could be an opinion you feel extremely offended by or a review you just don’t agree with. While your opinion is important, take time out before you respond so your emotions are more balanced. This way you won’t add to the influence of emotional charge.

Be Critical of the Comments You Read

You may read a harsh and angry review about a product you’re thinking of purchasing but try to read between the lines.

Is there a specific reason or circumstance that has influenced their negative comment? Perhaps it’s something that wouldn’t apply to you. Try to read other comments the poster has written to see if they have a tendency to write negatively. In other words, step back, take what they’ve said into account but be aware of it’s overall influence.

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Others’ opinions are based on personal and emotional perspectives. While some may be valid, it’s best to use them as a reference only. Doing solid research especially when we’re investing money into buying something, is always a must to get a thorough and balanced view on the product. Read more about how to shut down the voice of the peanut gallery: The Jeopardy of Taking Others’ Opinions Seriously

The sad truth is we can miss out on great things if we’re influenced too much by negative comments or reviews. Instead of basing a movie on it’s IMDB rating or choosing a book on Amazon with the most stars, choose the genre you like and find out for yourself. It’s how we find those hidden gems that add value to our lives.

Reviews and Comments Are for Reference Only

At the end of the day, we need to be more aware of how much we’re influenced by others. Be mindful of the comments and reviews and don’t always take them at face value.

Our general life experiences and emotions can dictate how we react in any moment so the only opinion that matters will be yours – find out for yourself and form your own opinion. What doesn’t work for others may work for you.

Reference

More by this author

Brian Lee

Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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