Advice: Good, Bad, and Internet

One of the advantages consumers have these days is the availability of online reviews. Whether you are choosing a computer, car, or caterer, usually you find ready assistance from those who own the object or have tried the service.

Even more impressive is the overall rating things or businesses receive as a compilation or average of the reviews. Usually that is registered in terms of one to five “stars.”

Still, I find myself increasingly fascinated by how unhelpful many of them are. Some reviews end up in the wrong spot, and before you know it you are reading a glowing review for a laptop when you were scrolling through entries for a grill. How did that happen?

Then there are the scathing reviews, usually one-star ratings, which berate the product because it was the wrong size, or because it arrived one or two days late. The authors seem not to grasp that the product’s quality is different from the delivery service and whether or not the item received was a slightly different shade than the one in the picture.

But strangest of all are the reviews which show clearly that the reviewer has never tried the product or read the book. I find it more odd than troubling that someone actually took the time to give others advice on something he knew nothing about.

You see this often in the “Q & A” section, in which you can ask a question about the product. You read such responses as. . .
“I don’t know. Mine hasn’t arrived yet.”
“I don’t know. I bought a different one.”
“I don’t know. It’s still in the box.”
‘I don’t know. I haven’t read this book yet.”
Or simply, “I don’t know.”

No doubt many of these are playful attempts at humor. But they are more like digital graffiti, words that serve no real value, and which mostly annoy others rather than help them. But they can remind us to be careful of our advice sources.

The Bible gives two general guidelines on counsel: Quantity and Quality. There is wisdom in a multitude of counselors (Proverbs 15:22; 24:6), and wisdom comes only from the wise (Proverbs 10:13; Ecclesiastes 7:19).

“He who trusts in himself is a fool,
but he who walks in wisdom will be safe.”
Proverbs 28:26

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