17. June 2012 · Comments Off on The Cult of The Best. · Categories: Gentlemanly Pursuits

Photo courtesy flickr user AlaskaTeacher under Creative Commons

I think it’s about time we abandoned the Cult of the Best.

Let me explain. A few days ago, our local community blog (catonsville.patch.com) posted about a new business that opened on our “main street”. Almost immediately, the internet critics grabbed hold.

“We went there the other night and I doubt we’ll be back. The one teenage employee was loudly talking to her friends while a woman was working behind the counter.”

“Sorry to say our experience was poor: fewer flavors of yogurt than most neighboring stores, half the amount of toppings available at, say, [redacted], yogurt was too soft, the syrup selection was a lonely bottle of Hershey’s.”

There’s no such thing as adequate or OK anymore. Everything’s either the best or the worst. Ever.

This is a small business, barely open a week. And with a few pithily chosen, snarky phrases, judgement has been passed. We went there, it wasn’t absolutely perfect, thus it’s awful and we’ll never be back. It was “poor” because it didn’t meet our every expectation. We can’t see a reason to return because a young employee had the gall to socialize with her friends while working in a frozen yogurt shop.

I’ve been to this place. It’s a perfectly serviceable frozen yogurt store. It’s within a few minutes walking distance of every eatery on the main strip in our town. The people who run it are perfectly nice, it’s clean, and they sell dessert, for goodness sake. It’s sweet, frozen goodness that’s a ten-minute walk from my front door. Is it the best around? No, it’s not. But it’s adequate. And in today’s world of the internet critic, where Yelp! and Zagat, Foursquare and Urbanspoon can make or break your business overnight, “good enough” isn’t. At all. In fact, “good enough” is a hair’s breadth from disgusting.

I am all for rewarding excellent food, service, and experiences with gushing ratings and eloquent write-ups. Businesses and restaurants that offer a superior experience should absolutely reap the rewards of their efforts. What’s depressing and discouraging is how quickly the ‘net as a community relegates those that don’t meet the threshold for perfection to the digital refuse bin.

So, let’s all take a moment before we cock a sneer, curl our lip in derision, and turn our noses up in the air. Let’s remember that there are people – hard working individuals – behind those counters and kitchens, and make every effort not to mock and disparage their efforts when they’re doing a perfectly good job. Let’s recognize that not everything is “The Best”, but that doesn’t make it the worst, either.

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