Tuesday, April 16, 2013

in yelp we trust

Last night, MLK, Jr.'s words--"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that."--shone across the side of a Brooklyn Academy of Music building. It was the result of a collaboration between two political groups, the NYC Light Brigade and The Illuminator in response to the horrific bombings at the Boston Marathon earlier that day. I was finishing up a final research paper at the time, while also checking in on Boston-based friends on Facebook, and following the news on Twitter. I Skype-d my family before bed, too.
Times like these make me long for home in the most heart-wrenching of ways.
{breads, tomato spread, wine}
They also make my appreciate social media. (Please forgive me for segueing into academia). As you knowI'm currently studying "how online social networks have transformed the dynamics of personal interaction, organizational behavior, marketing, branding, social mobilization, and civic action" in a class of mine. In our last class, we discussed the "disintermediation" of reviewing, rating, and ranking, and its implications on trust.
It reminded me of my first and favorite dining experience in Lisbon. Though I'll admit I neither follow restaurant critics nor take much notice of Zagat ratings or Michelin stars (no mind that I usually can't afford venues that possess the latter), I'd referenced a guide that evening. It featured the much-acclaimed Portuguese chef José Avillez and his latest venture; "his own little spot where he could present a simpler and varied cuisine but with the expected touch of sophistication." Soon after reading, we made late night dinner reservations for contemporary Portuguese cuisine and a laid-back ambiance at reasonable prices.
{portabello risotto, mesclun salad}
If professionals have regulated credentials, what do journalists have--specifically those who cover and critique restaurants--that offers the same prestige? Not even I could argue that all journalists are professionals; especially (and unfortunately) when journalistic standards are less clearly defined than ever before. Then again, have we ever trusted newspaper writers and editors in the same way we do our doctors?
It's doubtful, but I'll continue to turn to news outlets to be more informed about the world around me, even if that means reading articles online. With that said, I primarily look to fellow bloggers and hungry strangers for restaurant reviews. And oftentimes, when I have as delicious a meal as shown above and below, I blog about it and hope that you trust me enough to visit, say, Cantinho do Avillez for yourself someday.
{Cantinho chocolate cake with strawberry ice cream}
In a world where tragedy has the ability to hit at the finish line and in a school classroom just as it does in places known to be much less safe and secure, trusting each other becomes as challenging as it does necessary. It may seem absurd to do so in the midst of grief, sorrow, anger, fear, and my gosh, who am I to suggest such things? (especially after my restaurant review tie-in), but I so strongly believe people are inherently good. I believe it is through this trust, and the compassion and community it breeds, that the light of humanity will endure.
As always, please feel free share any thoughts or reactions in the comments. Also, by the chance that you're concerned as well, here are some ways to help Boston Marathon victims. I leave for the Jura early tomorrow morning but will be back this upcoming weekend with new photos and lighter words. Take care until then.


  1. This has to be one of my favourite posts of yours ever. It was so intricate, criss-crossing over different ideas and bringing it back to a central core. I'm so thankful for the uplifting message weaved throughout.

    The question about whether we have ever trusted our doctors as much as our news sources is very thought-provoking. I had never thought of it like that. I also wonder, in the case of restaurants, if a high-rating makes you go in with the expectation that it is going to be awesome. Maybe the trust sets you up to interpret the experience differently. It makes me also think about the mechanical laughter that they put in comedy shows.

    Thank you for an uplifting and thought-provoking post.

    1. That means so much, Hope. Thank you. The class conversation sparked a lot of questions for me, too and I'm glad you found them just as thought-provoking. It's interesting to think about trust in regards to information and relations.


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