December – The Official Month of Ungratefulness – Meditation #14

Thank fuck, I’m almost half way through these meditations. You can probably tell I don’t meditate much. It’s not that sitting still is a problem for me. I love sitting still. It’s the not being able to communicate thing that disturbs me. You see the processor, which is my brain requires input and output at pretty much all times, except when I’m asleep. Even then, my dreams are in amazing technicolour and action packed.

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If I’m sitting still alone, I must be reading. I love reading. I probably love reading more than life itself. I love reading so much, I read utter shite because it’s free on my Kindle and it’s, well, words. If I’m sitting with someone I like, then conversation is a must. Why on earth would I waste a moment of this short time on this planet choosing not to communicate with people I like? One of the requisites for anyone I like is that they have to be interesting. So I am not going to waste a second not engaging them and learning shit from them.

If I’m alone and not reading, then I need to be writing or listening to music. I love listening to music. I even used to create music in my wilder youthful days. I still dabble from time to time, but writing is the way that I export information that I’m not speaking. Anyone who knows me, also knows that I write as I speak. There are times I’m deadly serious, but most of the time I’m not, even though I may be addressing serious issues.

I have to trust those I choose to communicate with to be able to identify sarcasm. Of course, I do encounter people from time to time who are so self absorbed or in denial, that they aren’t able to move past the literal. And, you know what? I don’t waste my breath trying to explain to them. By the time I’ve had to offer an explanation the point has been so missed that I’ve already moved on.

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One thing I love reading is travel reviews. I love to travel. I even write reviews myself. The problem is that you really have to learn the secret of hidden meanings and how to identify dishonest reviewing to discover how to use reviews effectively. There’s a problem with some of the major travel review sites that makes them difficult to navigate and rather untrustworthy.

While I do use these sites to plan my trips, many people are not aware that those businesses who pay for advertising can ensure that they don’t get bad reviews, or certainly can keep them to a minimum. Businesses are also able to bribe/pay/cajole positive reviews from guests in exchange for freebies, discounts or just because some people need to be liked that much.

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I’m not going to go into details about how to identify fake reviews, I’ll just give you some really easy clues. First of all, if there are tons of glowing reviews but one or two really dreadful ones, have a really good look at the dreadful ones. If the dreadful ones sound like they were written by someone sane and come from reviewers who have given reasonable reviews to others, there’s a good chance that many of the glowing reviews are bullshit. There are great places that have been given bad reviews by really idiotic people, but usually you can work out that the people are lying, crazy, unreasonable, arseholes or all of the above.

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If a place has mostly great reviews and one or two ‘meh’ reviews, that’s probably real reviewing going on as most people and businesses can’t make everyone happy all the time. But people only go through the trouble to write scathing reviews for two reasons: 1. They are arseholes who didn’t get what they wanted, or 2. They were really and genuinely so pissed off that they went through the trouble of writing the bad review. OK, there are more reasons and those include, rival businesses, revenge seeking ex lovers and people just having a laugh. Chances are if there are one or two really bad and legitimate looking reviews, there were probably more if the company happens to advertise, but their advertising money made the bad reviews disappear. There’s even a helpful website to make it easier to determine if a review is real or not. Great idea. It’s called Review Skeptic . I’ve tested it and it’s pretty accurate.

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So, today I’m ungrateful for travel review sites that allow their advertisers to cheat the system and mislead customers. I know for a fact that there are some shitty businesses listed on these sites that have excellent reviews and I know exactly how they got those reviews. So, travelers, learn to read between the lines and if a review says a place is a shithole and the person seems legit, assume it probably is a shithole, but a shithole with smart management that pays for advertising and bribes guests with free beer and discounts to write great reviews.

 

 

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