In times gone by, most people would turn to family and friends when they needed a recommendation for anything. While this is still a viable and useful idea, nowadays most people will have this just be the first part of their research. The vast majority of us, when encountering a new product or service, will turn to the internet to find our answers. We look for product reviews, experiences, read company websites and even check social media.
In an ideal world, this would make us all far more savvy consumers than we have been at any point in history. Take something like dental cards. In the past, people may have fallen for the idea that these cards carry a kind of social stigma, were not accepted by most dentists or any of the other numerous myths that surround this product. With the internet, now the educated consumer can quickly bust these myths for themselves without even having to leave the comfort of their own home.
Useful as this online world of endless information is, it does have its dark sides. The first thing to be wary of is paid reviews, where someone is literally being financial compensated to review a product or service. These reviews are almost always favourable, and far too often the person doing the reviewing will not even disclose they are being paid for their apparently genuine opinion.
Secondly, you can sometimes find myths being perpetuated rather than busted. People love to argue online, and undoubtedly there are still some snobs who will insist that black is white and that dental cards are only for those less fortunate in financial terms. This can influence the way you think about a product without you even knowing.
So with these downsides, does it mean that you should avoid the online world and only solicit opinions from others that you know and trust in reality? The answer is not perfect, but is largely boiled down to yes and no. It is always worth asking around and obtaining opinions that you know you can trust, whatever it takes to find a fully rounded picture of the situation.
It’s also worth checking online, though. This is almost necessary if no one in your family or social circle has direct experience of the product you are querying; the internet allows you to consult the opinion of hundreds of thousands of other people. Just take things with a pinch of salt, and be wary of glowing reviews that don’t mention a single flaw.