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Archive for August, 2016

Online reviews with a grain of salt.

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Online reviews have become a key ingredient to online shopping. In fact, 92% of consumers read online reviews for local business and products, according to research by Bright Local. Although online reviews can be a valuable tool, it’s important to approach them with caution and consider all factors before allowing them to influence purchase decisions.

While some websites make it very easy to post an online review, most of the time it’s a bit of a process. Usually to leave a review a person has to visit the company website, find the product and create an account by sharing personal information with a required username and password. To carve out time during busy routines to take these steps, a person likely has strong views in one direction or the other. People who are moderately satisfied with their purchases are less likely to go out of their way to post a review. In other words, if all reviewers were in a college class with a professor who grades on a curve, reviewers would be the outliers with the A+ or F- grades. Students in the B to D rage are rarely represented. If a business has an overwhelming majority of A+ or F- grades, it’s likely the reviews are valid.

Bright Local research also found that 40% of consumers form an opinion by reading just 1 – 3 reviews. This is problematic again because of the extreme opinions of emotionally charged reviewers, but also because consumers are likely not getting the full story before basing a purchase on reviews. What if the first three reviews just happen to be positive, and important product flaws are missed? No product is perfect, so it’s important that if reviews are determining a purchase, consumers read the reviews judiciously and thoroughly to decipher the downfalls of the product. This allows for an educated purchase decision based on whether or not the imperfections are deal-breakers. For example, when buying a coffee cup, there may be some negative reviews expressing that the handles are too small for large hands. Someone with very large hands likely went online and left a highly negative review. However, this may or may not be relevant to the buyer, depending on the size of their hands. If a consumer is relying on reviews to make purchasing decisions, it’s important to get the whole story, versus fully relying on the opinion of the one angry, large-handed customer. Reading only the first 1 – 3 reviews before forming an opinion can also be problematic because some companies monitor product reviews, eliminating anything negative. Look for negative reviews instead of relying on the first few positive reviews. If a company or product has no negative reviews, proceed with extreme caution.

Product information from fellow consumers, versus the sales department of a company, definitely has benefits. But, like any information online, reviews must be taken with a grain of salt.

Boxed in.

Friday, August 26th, 2016


Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel provides comfort and allows for exploration.

Shot by: Rick Painter

Hiding behind the Internet.

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

The Internet can be a fun place where people catch up on friends’ lives and share highlights of their own lives with loved ones who offer praise and ‘likes’. However, the Internet can also be a hostile place where people are endlessly scolded by the masses for making a mistake, sharing unpopular content, or saying the wrong thing.

For example, new mom and country music star, Jana Kramer, recently shared a photo of jars of baby food being purchased at the grocery store with the caption, “And it begins. #babyfood.” The post was flooded with criticizing comments about her decision to buy food instead of making it. Comments like, “Make your own!!! Don’t buy jars. Yes they’re convenient but not as nutritious,” and, “My sister made her own baby food. Much healthier and now my nephew is almost five won’t touch processed food.” The country star responded beautifully with a note that read, “Dear Mommy Shamers, Unless you are Jolie’s doctor, her father, or her mom, do NOT tell me how to raise my child, or how to feed her. Sincerely, Jolie’s MOM.”

But, it doesn’t stop there. This summer, an alligator snatched a 2-year-old boy while he was standing in a foot of water at Disney World lagoon. This story spurred another wave of insensitive, judgmental comments from the masses, such as, “IDIOT PARENTS ARE TO BLAME FOR THIS PERIOD…. that is their job to protect their kid, to keep him out of the water! THEIR RESPONSIBILITY…. the beautiful child lost his life due to parental stupidity, period.”

And perhaps the worst ‘comments mob’ of all was directed at Michelle Gregg, the mom whose 3-year-old son got into the gorilla exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo, leading zookeepers to kill 400-pound Harambe. With comments like, “#GorillaIncident MOM IS TOTALLY AT FAULT SHOOT HER,” people were out for blood.

Most people would not walk around in person, scolding moms at grocery stores, or demanding blood from parents who make mistakes. They most certainty would not look into the eye of a grieving mother and tell her she’s the, “Idiot parent to blame for this.” So, what drives people to this insane behavior online? Because the Internet represents a wall that people can hide behind.

When we look at how psychologists explain road rage, it’s similar to the behavior exhibited by people online. Psychologist Ava Cadell explains that to road ragers, the heavy metal of a car is a safe haven. They don’t think about the consequences or even about other people on the road as real people with real families and feelings. Are people using the Internet as their safe haven, forgetting that they’re talking to real people, with real feelings?

We all know there are major consequences to road rage, with tens of thousands of accidents happening each year because of aggressive driving. But what about the consequences of ‘Internet rage’ ? While the Internet makes it easy to pass judgment and share unfiltered opinions, perhaps we should remember it’s a real person, with a real family and feelings on the receiving end of the comments shared.

Together, we can change the world.

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge that flooded the Internet in 2014? We saw thousands of people dumping buckets of ice water over their heads to raise awareness and generate funding for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also called ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease). Although a popular complaint among critics was that the whole thing was “slacktivism” (or lazy activism that doesn’t change much), the viral movement raised more than $115 million for ALS research. The funding recently led to a big scientific discovery– a new gene that will help scientist better understand ALS. Prior to the Ice Bucket Challenge, there had been very little progress made towards curing the disease, since it was made famous by MLB star, Lou Gehrig, in 1939.

The 440 million people who watched the videos and participated in the challenge weren’t personally affected much by their fun videos and small donations. But together, they made a difference that will change the lives of thousands affected by the disease today, and in the future.

The Ice Bucket Challenge had all of the ingredients to go viral. It was interactive with good visuals and it had a connection to athletes, with famous athlete and celebrity participation. It’s understandable why the whole movement received a lot of attention. However, do things always have to be so shiny and fun and gain our attention and support?

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raised money and support in just a short amount of time because it brought people together for a cause. What if we all rallied behind an issue every month, each giving just a little bit of our time and wealth to solve problems and support worthy causes?

According to Feeding America, a donation of just $1 provides 11 meals. What if we collectively rallied behind the cause of hunger and each donated $20? What impact could we have on hunger in America? The nation was up in arms around the recent death of Cincinnati Zoo gorilla, Harambe, but what if we all rallied around gorilla protection and habitat conservation? How many gorillas, or other endangered species, could we save with collective donations to the World Wildlife Fund?

The Ice Bucket Challenge proved that while each individual contribution may seem small, together we could change the world.


Over and under.

Friday, August 12th, 2016


Perspective certainly allows you to see things differently.

Shot by: Rick Painter