5 Star Rating Obsession: The Dark Reality

29 May '24
4 min read


We live in a world where we are obsessed with 5 star ratings. Whether it's ordering a product on Amazon, booking a hotel for your vacation, choosing a restaurant for dinner, finding a salon for a simple haircut, or even rating your Uber driver; this obsession is everywhere. So much so that even for a simple morning coffee, we check which place has a better rating closer to 5 stars. Or when you are buying a TV, where one has 4.5 stars from 400+ ratings but is slightly cheaper, and the other has 4.8 stars from 500+ ratings but is slightly more expensive. Which one will you buy?
More often than not, you will end up buying the expensive one because of higher ratings. This has led to many companies rigging the rating system by offering financial incentives or freebies to buyers for giving a 5 star rating for their product or service or even getting paid reviews, which is blatant manipulation or rigging the system. This manipulation has also driven service technicians, delivery workers, and others to request customers to give them 5 stars for their service. Anything less, even a 4, is seen as a bad service. When did 4 out of 5 become a bad rating?

Before the rapid rise of the internet, how would you decide on a product, service, or restaurant? Either by reference or by trying it out yourself. How did a simple decision become a do-or-die situation in this internet era where we need the opinion of the whole world? It’s not like NASA or ISRO astronauts deciding between two companies on which one will take them safely to space, or a doctor deciding to opt for the best medicine or apparatus to aid them in treating a complex case. Researching an expensive purchase like a car, house, or investment options makes sense. But taking hours to decide which restaurant to go to for lunch is a waste of time. The worst part is canceling your Uber driver because of a slightly lower rating. This is downright crazy!

For the most part, corporate employees have appraisals once or twice a year, but blue-collar workers face appraisals multiple times a day and are expected to maintain a 5 star rating constantly. One bad day or one spiteful customer can ruin their rating and bonus. If a delivery driver is late because of traffic or took a moment for lunch, does that really warrant a 1 star rating? Such ratings can cost them their job or a much needed bonus. This fixation on perfection is harsh and unfair.

Image Credits: Netflix/Black Mirror

In fact, when "Black Mirror" aired an episode titled "Nosedive" back in 2016 which depicted a world similar to the one we are living in, I dismissed it as too speculative and something I would not see in my day. But just 8 years later, we are living in a similar world.

When we ourselves are not 5 star people, how can we expect everyone else to be 5 star?  Are you that 5 star employee at work who is always on time, never late for meetings or calls, always greets everyone with a smile, never takes personal time during work, and never lets your personal life affect your work? Are you that perfect son, daughter, mother, father, or friend? If not, why are you obsessed with 5-star ratings even for trivial things?

It’s understandable to seek the best school for your child, the best doctor for your parents, or the best car within your budget. But does every Uber driver, barber, or maid need to be rated 5 stars? Releasing this obsession can simplify your life and reduce the pressure on blue-collar workers. So what if your Uber driver didn't greet you with a smile, they might have had a bad day. So what if one person gave a potential maid 2 stars, everyone deserves a chance.

We took a chance on our maid, who had a lower rating on MyGate. She has proven to be exceptionally reliable, sometimes even coming to work when she's unwell, and often going above and beyond her duties. Over the past year, we've given her two raises and helped her in other ways.
Let’s give people a chance. Let’s move beyond the obsession with 5 star ratings and recognize that everyone, including ourselves, is imperfect. Life will be simpler, and those around us will feel less pressure to meet unrealistic standards. The next time you are about to give a 2 or 3 star rating for something trivial, take a deep breath and give a 4/5 star rating instead.


Written by Prasad B Y

Foodie, Coffee Lover & Techie