Opinion: Online Reviews Are Where Our Kids Are Learning How to Bully Online
A restaurant industry veteran argues Yelp and other review sites encourage bullying behavior
By Mike Tersigni, Fri., April 24, 2020
Let’s look at one of the major issues gripping our country today – bullying. It is affecting our children more than most of us realize. As a father I ask this question: Where are our kids learning this bullying behavior?
It all starts with the parents. Just in reading some negative restaurant reviews, it’s not hard to find adults with an online bullying nature. You will find comments like, “Management needs to get their $#*¥ together,” or, “I strongly recommend that no one comes here,” or even saying that a particular restaurant needs to be more like a competing restaurant.
I have multiple thoughts on this. First, the people working within each restaurant are human beings trying to make a living. I am a husband and a father that loves working in the restaurant industry. I have my bachelor’s degree in journalism, yet chose to continue my path in the restaurant industry because of my passion for it. I was responsible for a restaurant that is a concept that I believed in and for a company that I believed in. Online reviews directly affected my life and those that worked for me. When we are going to work day in and day out to do the very best job that we can (just like the rest of America), why should we be so affected by online reviews from guests that don’t understand or agree with our concept?
Second, whatever happened to the old adage, “If you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all?” My parents taught me that. I teach my child that. I know plenty of people that were taught that by their parents. What happened to the decency that our parents tried so hard to drill into our brains? What happened to just simply making the choice to not go back somewhere?
My theory is this: We are all so comfortable being behind a keyboard in our everyday life that it’s extremely easy for us to type anything we want as we hide behind those keys and don’t have to have a face-to-face interaction. I can honestly say that at least 90% of the negative reviews of my restaurants came from guests that chose not to say anything to a manager on duty, or even their own server. If a guest feels that one of their dishes was too salty to eat or just simply not to their liking, they are more likely to not say a word, pay for that item, and then complain about it online. I don’t know, if I didn’t enjoy something, then I sure as heck would not want to pay for it. Let me ask you this: If you had work done on your car or your house and you weren’t satisfied, wouldn’t you speak up and let that company know that they won’t receive payment from you until the work is completed properly?
I have more respect for the guest that flags me down or approaches me to tell me that one of their dishes was the worst thing they’ve ever had. It is at that point that I can make sure the guest is not paying for it, as well as make sure I understand why the guest did not like it. I can take that information to my chef and see where we went wrong. All too often I will read a restaurant review that says, “I want this restaurant to succeed, but....” If you truly want a restaurant to succeed, then have a face-to-face conversation with the people that can make improvements. Don’t hide behind a keyboard and write a negative review that negatively affects the restaurant. That act alone contradicts the statement “I want this restaurant to succeed...”
At the end of the day, all I want is a society in which we can have open communication that does not involve hiding behind a keyboard. Let’s be humans and allow other humans to fix mistakes. Let’s be honest, when it comes down to it, it’s not about you – it’s about all of us together.
Mike Tersigni has spent more than 17 years in the restaurant industry. He chose to forego his bachelor’s degree in journalism to pursue a career focused on service and creating personal relationships. Originally from the greater Los Angeles area, Mike left California six years ago and has never looked back. Mike is supported by a loving wife and son.
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