As I sat in the dentist’s chair last Friday, I contemplated the events that had led me to this often-feared place. My wisdom teeth were coming in rather painfully, so I had gone to my dentist, who had referred me to an oral surgeon who would remove them. But as I sat in this chair, I questioned the advice of my dentist of the last 10 years. I didn’t know this surgeon. His office was in an unfamiliar part of town. I’d never met these receptionists before, and the other people in the waiting room looked gloomy as they poured over National Geographic magazines from 6 months ago, and tried to ignore the soap opera that was blaring from a tv high in the corner.
There are dozens of oral surgeons available in the area, so why did I choose this one? My insurance would have covered many of the other surgery practices in the area, so cost was not an issue. Neither was location. I was in this particular office purely on the recommendation of my dentist. Which means a great deal, of course. My dentist has networked with this oral surgeon for decades. But in this hyper-connected age, I could have searched Google for oral surgeons and gone by who had the best reviews in the area. However, some things are just too important to trust anonymous user 877 for.
This doesn’t stop me from using someones smartphone to find a good place to eat when I travel, or reading the eBay user reviews before I purchase something priced just too-good-to-be-true. In general though, I have grown much less trusting of user reviews online, as I hear about fake yelp reviews, and other massive review frauds.
As we accelerate our networking, and even have user reviews for ourselves (linkedin), we must keep trust in mind. For me, at least, it can be very difficult to trust individuals who I have only met online. Any student who has taken an online only course can attest to being left holding the bag after several people bail out on a group project. Millions of people have had their identity stolen online. Many others buy products online and receive something else entirely. In some way, whether or not it is our own fault, we are all somehow affected.
Our virtual networks are awesome. It’s what makes blogs like this possible. However, the security one can get from face-to-face interaction can be lacking. And it’s a good thing I didn’t look up oral surgeon reviews. The one who cut me open on Friday has only negative reviews.