It seemed like just the kind of place my sister and I would enjoy visiting so we made plans to drive the hour and 20 minutes one Saturday morning in August to check it out. It had been written about in a national magazine and talked about on a province-wide talk show. Good enough recommendation for us, so off we went.
We stayed less than five minutes. I know, I know…we really gave it a chance, right? But neither of us had any desire to stay once we saw the place for ourselves.
I've always found the work of critics or reviewers rather curious. It's a job that requires recommending or informing others about the strengths or deficiencies of a product or place that ultimately we each bring a very personal perspective to. Elements that make for enjoyable entertainment or interesting places in one person's opinion could be very different for someone else. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has picked up a book or checked out a movie based on the recommendation of someone only to question what they had seen in it. We each have different ideas that determine what we think is good.
The editor of an Ohio newspaper announced that for the first time in more than 40 years the news outlet will not be endorsing anyone in the next election. One in Illinois made a similar announcement but has already received tremendous pushback from readers. It's a long standing tradition in U.S. politics for editorial boards to give endorsements, and whether people agree or disagree it seems to engage more people in the discussion, even though voting impact is hard to assess.
There are some endorsements that seem easier to quantify. In a lawsuit launched by Kim Kardashian West against a fashion brand for unauthorized use of her name and likeness, she indicated she typically earns $500,000 for a single Instagram post and for longer-term endorsements receives up to $6 million annually. In an affidavit she said unauthorized use of her image makes it appear she endorses products she doesn't and that confuses her fans. She explained, "Because a significant portion of my business involves the licensing of my name, trademarks, and images, I work very hard to ensure that my brand means something to my fans and to the public, who view the use of my name as the stamp of approval by me." Really? Her opinion is worth that much?
Purchasing a piece of jewelry or item of clothing based on someone's stamp of approval may have rather limited consequence, but what if the opposite were to happen? What if someone's disapproval of something has an impact on us? Perhaps it's not a big deal if it means missing out on a good movie or restaurant, but regrettably it sometimes extends to people. I let it happen to me.
Without ever having a conversation or interaction with a woman who used to live in my town, I let the opinions of others color my perception of her. They didn't like her and wanted to keep her at arm's length. Based on them, I did as well. That is on me.
About a year later we found ourselves working side-by-side on a major project. We absolutely clicked and had so much fun. I regret how wrong I was to listen to others rather than making my mind up for myself. I probably let it happen other times, too. Who knows what I missed out on.
I didn't disclose the destination of the visit my sister and I undertook in August. That was by intent. You may want to go someday and your experience will be your own, not based on the recommendation of some or the criticism of others.
On our way home we re-read the article and laughed at how differently we now interpreted words like quaint, cozy and charming. And that's exactly how it should be. We all have wonderful minds, imaginations and frames of reference through which we live our lives. So shut out the voices that tell you what you should or shouldn't like, and instead go and experience it for yourself. There just might be wonderful surprises and tremendous laughter in store. That's my outlook.