I got an email advert from Amazon today, even though I'm supposedly on the list not to receive adverts, indeed the only emails I expect from Amazon are those about updates to the echo, and those notifying me of the status of anything I order.
Be that as it may something struck me about this email.
Everything they were advertising, from films to books to pop music, to audible trials to trailers and cinema tickets bore the word "popular!"
They didn't advertise something as being good, or even critically acclaimed, or worth watching, according to Amazon, I should be interested in something just because lots of other people are.
This logic somewhat beggars my belief.
if someone recommends something to me because it is a good example of something, be that a book, film, something to eat, piece of music or whatever, I'll give it a try and form my own opinion, and say what aspects of that thing I personally liked and what I did not and why I liked them. Indeed, other reviewers I tend to enjoy reading reviews from don't tend to be people I disagree with, but people who can put their opinions coherently.
People are of course welcome to disagree, I'm not claiming to be any kind of ultimate authority on taste, however as a person who has tried many examples of books, games, films, recipes for chilly or whatever, and can claim to have at least a somewhat refined sense of taste for such things, I would much rather hear a recommendation from another discerning person who can tell me exactly why they think the thing they're recommending is worth recommending, than a million million faceless thumbs ups, likes or simply statements that a thing is "popular"
Its actually something that really gets up my nose with book reviews. For any given book, probably %50 of reviews all give a top rating and some bland variant of "this is the best thing ever!" with little reason given (especially when the reviewers received an advanced copy of the book to comment on).
Then, probably %30 do not actually praise the book at all, but simply like the fact that the book agrees with Sjw axe the reviewer themselves happens to be grinding.
You do still get negative reviews, but these are far rarer, (especially for modern books), and its even rarer to find someone who will actually give reasons for disliking a particular book that are not based on some form of axe grindery anyway.
This is why when I write reviews, i try myself to be critical in the real sense of the word, say what I liked, what I did not, and back up those claims with reference to values people can understand, such as plot, pacing, characters or writing style.
Of course, people are welcome to disagree with me about my attribution of these values to the given book, EG people might find a given pacing slower or faster than I do, or even the importance of these values, EG people might disagree with me on the importance of writing style.
However the fact that we can! disagree about such values gives us a common language, a common motivation, and actually makes the reading of books (or appreciating anything else), a social event, heck my lady and I chat about books much of the time, and no, we don't always agree or even have the same preferences (I definitely have much more tolerance and even liking for darker plots than she does).
So, what the hell is with this tendency of everyone to just agree and hand wave and say "yeah its good!", and this stupid business that the only positive given to anything is that its "popular!"
Of course, being the marxist I am, I would attribute this to the fact that to our corporate overlords, the fact that something "sells", probably is! the only real critical value something has, particularly since said corporate overlords are not actually interested in creative, artistic or expressive people anyway, however just because the idiot share holders who run the world think like this, why does everyone else?
Perhaps its because these days your not supposed to be able to disagree with anyone, much less have a politely critical conversation, I don't know, but either way, its bloody annoying, and just a little scary.
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)