After I came down the car, my phone started vibrating. It was the app asking me to provide a rating for the ride. I am more of a bike person and very seldom take a taxi anywhere, but this day I was carrying something heavy and needed a car. The ride was smooth, no unnecessary talking, and the music was not loud. For me, that was an average ride, and deserved being rated as such: 3 stars out of five sounds reasonable.
A few months ago I visited a store to buy shoes. That particular day it was pouring; when I entered the shop I was soaking wet. I had to find a place to hang the jacket because I didn't want to wet the whole floor. Only after I managed to recompose myself, the saleswoman came to meet and greet me. I got my new pair of shoes and went away. It was just a normal experience, and therefore it deserved an average rating on the map.
Last week, I bought a pair of headphones online. I want to start editing videos, and being able to listen to the audio is important. I closed my eyes and trusted the algorithm. Picked the best match in my desired price range. I only had to change the color, because I didn't want them to be just black. When they arrived home, I was very surprised, they were exactly what I wanted. I haven't tested other headphones, and the ones I got were as I imagined they should be: average.
Yesterday I was watching a movie in which part of the storyline is about a taxi driver who will lose h permission to work if his rating drops below 4 out of 5 stars. Guilt started growing in me. Could it be that, because of my 3is star, average rating, a person was actually going to be fired? I opened the app again, just to realize that there is no way of changing the past. What is done, is done. Forever. I thought maybe I could take a second ride with the same driver, and compensate for that poor rating. But it turns out that matches between riders and drivers are pure algorithmic serendipity.
This morning, when I woke up, I had a notification on my mailbox. It was about a message that the owner of the store left as a reply to my comment online. I could start feeling some anxiety regarding the content of that message. I didn't want to be responsible for someone's future a second time in two days. The reply is very succinct, they regret that I had a bad experience with them and that measures are in place to prevent it from happening again. Not knowing for sure that there was a direct consequence for the woman made me relax for the rest of the morning.
I decided I am not going to submit a review for the headphones I bought.
I always enjoyed teaching, even though I know I am not the best. I can't but wonder what it means when a student grades me with 3 out of 5 points. I was confident it meant I met their expectations but there were some remarkable teachers who did a great job and needed recognition. Like my colleague, who built a network between refugees and students in order to enrich and humanize both sides of their stories. Perhaps the student who rated me with a 3 thought I should be fired.
We live in a world where there is no room for average. We can't have an average life on Instagram. We can't have average fun nor eat at an average restaurant. Everything we do must be a 5-star experience. Every person with whom we interact has to be rated as extraordinary. If we fail to do so, we risk social exclusion, we won't get shares nor likes. We can even be the cause of someone being fired.
But if I would have given 5 stars to my driver some months ago, I wouldn't have been able to point out the remarkable job that my new driver did. He stopped to help an old lady who fell while walking down the street. If I would have been rated higher by my student, it would have been impossible to give the recognition necessary to my colleague, who is putting a lot of extra effort to make a better world every day.
If we get used to only showing that we have 5-star experiences in every aspect of our lives, then we are going to miss out on the remarkable moments. If we only rate with 5 stars, then we don't live room for extraordinary.