If you’ve never seen how truly petty human beings can be, and for some reason, you’d like to, I highly recommend working in a restaurant. Other than that, I can’t recommend it for anything other than fodder for writing, and even then, you get both at the same time. I gave up working trying to feed people back in the 1980s and returning to that business is not on the menu.
A few months ago I was invited to join a FB group that was created for people to give reviews for restaurants in Valdosta Georgia, and the surrounding areas. Seemed simple enough, and because a good friend of mine created the group, she asked me to help moderate it. Things got weird right off the bat
The first thing we had to do is remove people and block them from the group because of politics. There is no subject so far removed as to be safe from being connected to one political position or another. A review of local seafood restaurant turned into a bloodbath with people from every tiny sliver of the political spectrum weighing in. We decided that membership had to be approved before letting people join at that point.
Next, people were writing lengthy reviews, mostly negative, about the food found in fast food joints. Almost nothing they serve in those places could remotely be considered food. The help is making minimum wage, and if that’s where you and your partner are spending your dates, well, yeah, go for it. No, don’t. It’s a waste of time to complain about fast food places.
One thing that snuck up on us, was that we started getting popular and we started getting big. A group with 2,000 members can wield a significant amount of influence on restaurants in a small town. A strongly negative review, complete with photos of a burned pizza, can hurt a restaurant. Your employee put a torched pie in a box! Don’t tell us how great you are at that point! Owners and managers began to join the group to defend their products, or to try to make things right. Suddenly, it was a very real and very serious thing that we were doing. Photos of a bug in a plate of food were seen by hundreds of people within a few hours. Our group could really help or really hurt a real business.
Factions formed and fights broke out. People defending their favorite steak place against other steak houses would trash their opponents’ favorite place and we had to put a stop to that sort of thing. There was name-calling and cussing. There were people taking the argument into PMs and screenshots of these fights began to appear in our messages. We had at least one case where employees of a restaurant were leaving positive reviews of the place they worked, and we suspected disgruntled employees were doing the opposite.
At the end of the day, the group works, but it only works because of a very heavy-handed Admin. If I had to guess, I would say three dozen people have been blocked and twice that many booted. Whatever we learned from social media, we learn that any group of people, as a whole, are only as civil they are forced to be.
PS By the way, where you live, where’s your favorite eating establishment?
Mike writes regularly at his site: The Hickory Head Hermit. Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.