Direct your Creative Energy in a Positive Direction (Instead of Throwing It Away Writing Reviews)

Creative energy is wasted by writing negative reviews. Channel that energy into something useful!


Aaron Nichols

3 years ago | 5 min read

“You can have literature without literary criticism, but you can’t have literary criticism without literature.”
-My Literature Professor

While putting together this piece, I’ve partaken in one of my favorite silly pastimes:

I love reading one-star reviews of famous national monuments and beloved places. National Parks. Famous museums. The Sydney Opera House. This always makes me laugh, but it represents something much darker in western society, namely the wasting of creative energy towards negativity, negative thought patterns, and negative reviews. I see it everywhere in today’s world. You have a finite amount of creative energy, and when you are conditioned to be negative, that energy is wasted. A long-winded post on a one-star review is a waste of your precious, limited creative energy.

It may sound hokey, but negativity has a snowball-rolling-down-a-hill effect. The more you perceive life negatively, the more you will have negative experiences. The more you experience life negatively, the more negative and nihilistic you become.

To illustrate this point, I’ll talk about some of my favorite one-star reviews, The one-star reviews of the Sydney Opera House. A place so famous, and so beautiful, that when we are shown pictures of Australia, it’s right there next to the kangaroos and desert, though they are nowhere close to each other. I first encountered these reviews buying tickets to an Opera while I was on my Australian working holiday. I realized that 60,000+ people had reviewed this beautiful building on a five-star scale. I thought “don’t these people realize that leaving these reviews is entirely useless?” Then I went down a dark and breathtakingly stupid rabbit hole.

The Sydney Opera House is a beautiful building, an engineering feat so unbelievable that it has come to represent an entire country. I was simply in awe when I saw it.

Yet hundreds upon hundreds of people have rated it one star, for reasons often having nothing to do with the opera house itself.

“The service was bad in the restaurant.” 1 star.

“I was seated too far from the performance.” 1 star.

And my personal favorite: “personally, I am not a fan of postmodern architecture.” 1 star.

Two things about that last one, Dave from Idaho:

  1. The Sydney Opera House is classified as “modernist expressionist” architecture (according to my tour guide and shaky memory).
  2. I’m sorry that you weren’t hugged enough, Dave from Idaho. I’m sorry that you know words about architecture but nobody listens to you when you talk about it so you have to turn to Google reviews as your only platform. It sounds like it may be truly horrible in your head. If you need to chat about something positive, reach out!

It’s hard for me to conceive of the level of basic silliness it requires to think that a one-star review of the Sydney Opera House is worth writing or posting. To reiterate, 60,000+ people have reviewed this beautiful piece of architecture to date. Where in that total does your one-star review fit in? Do you foresee someone back home shouting “crap! Honey, cancel the trip. Dave from Idaho didn’t enjoy the aesthetics of the architecture!”

NO! You, Dave (sorry, you’ve become my metaphor for cultural negativity) didn’t write this to try to help anyone. You wrote it for yourself. You wrote it because your finite amount of creative energy has been corrupted and is being directed towards negative nonsense.

Each of us has finite amounts of energy. Finite amounts of creative energy. The sum impact on your mind of writing silly negative reviews or negative comments on other people’s creations is not zero. It takes a toll on you. It steals your ability to perceive even the possibility of positivity in the world.

I started this article with a quote from my professor to illustrate a simple point:

Creators can exist and create without critics. But without creators, critics would have nothing to criticize (I suppose they would just double down on criticizing the people in their lives).

It’s whimsical and fun to look at one-star reviews on something like the Sydney Opera House. Sadly, I’ve realized that when I start looking at one-star reviews, people who have given a national park one star have often also gone around randomly sprinkling one-star reviews on innocent, perhaps struggling small businesses. In the realm of small business, someone who is using their finite creative energy to write negative one-star reviews can cause real harm.

Don’t be like this! Look back at your reviews, and remember the famous quote:

“If every room you find yourself in is full of nothing but a@#$oles, there’s a good chance you’re the a#@$hole.”

If every review that you leave is a one-star review, or two-star review, with endless angry comments beneath them about how your expectations weren’t met, then there is a very good chance that your perception of the world is to blame, NOT the world.

And you know what?! The same is true for those people only leaving five-star reviews, but they are out there having a way better time than you, simply because their perception of the world is more positive than yours.

Does that sting? It should.

I have a sad truth to share, that I learned by working in restaurants.

Review platforms are built on a business model of giving you (the consumer) the illusion of control. When you look up restaurants on your favorite review platform, the ones you see at the top are the ones that have paid the most to be at the top. Not the most highly reviewed. Review platforms are turncoats. Double agents.

The next time you have a bad experience at a restaurant, or experience a mild inconvenience, why not put the energy towards something useful instead of giving your finite creative energy to one of the many review-middleman companies that make money off of giving you the illusion of control/bullying small businesses?

Start your own (better) restaurant. Paint a canvas. Write a novel. Glue some macaroni to a wall in the shape of your favorite musician. Life’s too short to feed the negativity Kraken. Your negativity isn’t helping anything, it’s adding to the noise.

I have a rule now, after all this time reading one-star reviews. If I choose to review something, I can only leave five-star reviews. If I have a mildly inconvenient or negative experience (short of, I suppose, physical harm to my person as a result of the experience) I try to exercise my humility muscle. I ask myself “what if I didn’t like the soup, based on personal taste? Does that make it bad soup?” Then I think about my qualifications. “I’m unqualified to critique soup. I have little to no culinary experience. Does this restaurant deserve a one or two-star review for my lack of knowledge?” The answer is usually no.

In the modern, grab-your-attention world, happiness has to be closely guarded. The more you give in to negativity, the less happy you’ll be.


Created by

Aaron Nichols

4x top Medium writer, educator, and vagabond. Newsletter: Email or send a raven south to contact him







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