In general, I try not to use this blog and the internet to express negative thoughts and feelings about other people. I think of it as being passive aggressive and cowardly.
A couple weeks ago I got an email from Rory's old preschool asking for positive reviews on Yelp. I went and looked at the reviews and they were all glowing 5 star reviews that had been written over the course of a couple of days.
I didn't have a great experience at Rory's first preschool, which was a co-op school that parents participate in and receive parenting education. I wrote a private blog about it after I quit, but never published it here. I didn't like having my parenting criticized, and I felt like the coop obligations were overwhelming. That's about as much as I can say without sounding more negative than neutral.
I imagined someone reading all the glowing reviews and signing up their child for the school without even doing more research or visiting the school. That is actually what I did after reading testimonials on the website. I did it because it was the only preschool around for toddlers that welcomed parents into the classroom, so I figured I didn't have any other options. So I wrote a 2 star review, where I basically explained the problems I had with it.
All of my other Yelp reviews are 4 or 5 stars. I never would have written a negative review about the school if it wasn't for all the 5 star reviews that balanced it out. I really thought I was doing potential parents a favor by writing it.
Rory's teacher wrote me a nice email expressing her surprise at my feelings, saying she really thought I was great with Rory and the other kids at the school, and that she wished I would have felt like I could talk to her about my problems with the school. I didn't feel comfortable because it was sort of my subjective judgement that she wouldn't have been capable of change.
I went to look at the reviews, and found that all but one of the glowing reviews had been filtered out, leaving my negative review and one positive review. I felt kind of bad. I wouldn't have written it if I didn't think it would just be seen as one perspective among many. The school is a non-profit, and many families depend on it, because it is much less expensive than other schools, and also many people have kids who don't want to be without their parents at preschool. It allows for kids to have a preschool experience that includes their parents, which many children and parents need.
I also felt like the review represented me as a negative person. I wondered what someone from another school would think if they read it. Would they be afraid to accept Rory into their school because they thought I might write a bad review about them? Would other friends who read it think I was a negative judgmental person?
So I took my review down, probably mostly for selfish reasons. The guilt and worry were weighing on my heart. I guess Yelp wouldn't be a useful website if people only wrote positive reviews, so I feel kind of lame about it. I guess it is kind of funny, because I think of negativity on the internet as being cowardly and passive aggressive, but maybe I don't have the guts to stand up and say what I think sometimes because I'm afraid of the personal ramifications of being too negative. This has all been really emotional for me, and it is hard for me to sort out my real motivations. On the one hand, I feel like it would be a good thing to spare a parent some grief by recommending they research the school more carefully, and on the other hand I feel like I'm leaving my soul out there on the internet by writing a bad review.