Friday Firesmith – What’s Eating You?

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.

Take Care,


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.

10 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – What’s Eating You?”

  1. I recently read a back and forth between a restaurant manager and a woman who left a 1 star Yelp review over something really stupid. After it was said and done the manager said what really bothers him is sometimes they screw up through miscommunication or whatever and he tries to make it right if he finds out before they leave. But those people who have a legitimate bitch never leave a bad revue. The only ones who do are the ones that are just being petty and vindictive.

    I like to eat at home, no manners required, scratch anywhere I itch and I can use blueberry yogurt instead of salad dressing if I damn well please.

  2. I have stopped looking at reviews of anything. They mostly say this is the best thing or the worst thing so they mean nothing.
    My favorite place to eat here in central Arkansas is a catfish restaurant called Leon’s.

  3. Gueros Taco Bar in Austin is really good. Great margaritas, their food is the best, their service is really good always with a smile, and the atmosphere is good as well. It’s on S. Congress. That is one of the happening places in Austin. There’s great little funky shops and stuff there. Last time I ate there I saw Lyle Lovett. There are many famous Texans who eat there, the great thing is, no one messes with them, they just let them eat. I think that’s pretty cool.

    There’s a place in Wiesbaden, Germany called Walter’s futterkrippe. It’s a stand up food place. Been there for years, has the best curry wurst I’ve ever had anywhere. They have excellent rotisserie chicken and great fries. If I ever make it back to Germany, I will make it a point to eat there at least one time.

  4. I frequent any place that can make a damn decent cup of coffee and a decent breakfast. As a paramedic, I have had probably close to 300 gallons of bad coffee in my career. No more!

    I was talking with a friend I have known for years and she is now retired from the forest service. Reserve America has got to be one of the most inconvenient websites to reserve a campsite on. People, she tells me, find what will be their final day of camping in the National Forest and count back their allowed stay of 10-days. They then book all of those days just so they have a spot to stay “just in case.” Other than the money your spending it is rude to take more days than your actual plan even if something comes up through bad thinking. So you might actually find an open spot and only need it for the night, but if you follow the rules you can be denied just because the fancy out of stater has money.

    I have had similar problems with that website on a state park (reserve America handles a lot). I have booked 3-4 sites for family and friends at times and arrive to find there is another person already camping in a reserved spot. The last one told me they had gotten there on Monday and wanted to stay their entire 10-days, so too bad. Park is full and one person in our group decided to park with us in our spot. Park Rangers wanted us to pay another fee for the extra campers in our spot. I told them I was an attorney and these people had clearly violated the rules and were in my reserved spot – think lawsuit. Rangers (usually college interns) panicked and cleared the other people out within the hour.

    Don’t even get me started on pettiness as a Paramedic – Wholly SHIT – you think a facebook post is bad try meeting these people in person.

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