Yelp and the Pons
Yelp is probably one of the best examples of an internet business that encourages people to react in their pons, as well as an example of a site that promotes distorted views (also a sign of an underdeveloped pons) as though they were shared by the majority. Here’s why I say that.
First, the name Yelp (versus calling it Help) kinda says it all if the “Y” in Yelp represents “yelling” for help. Or, perhaps, the name was chosen to reflect the literal definition of yelp: to utter a short cry of pain or alarm.
Either way, the Yelp name does not invoke anything positive.
Of course, since the creators of Yelp know that people are more naturally inclined to be negative than positive, they capitalize on that. Note that Yelp posted nearly $138 million in revenue last year.
In short, Yelp needs and wants people to “bellow” what’s wrong, rather than encourage them to take care of business—which would mean they would express their concerns to those directly involved, give people a chance to clarify before acting on (whatever), and explore how to move a situation forward in a positive way.
But nope, Yelp is set up to encourage people to stay in their pons since the format promotes fight and flight reactions (both are red flags of an underdeveloped pons). For example, reviewers can do flight behavior by hiding behind their Yelp post without ever sharing their real, full name or without ever expressing their thoughts directly, in person, to the people targeted in their review.
Yelp additionally encourages fight behavior since people can go on the “attack” whenever they aren’t happy with an outcome. Yelp requires no cooling off period or “statue of limitations.” Instead, Yelp makes it possible for people to post a review at anytime—while in the heat of the moment or months or years later after whatever happened (and the situation has now festered in the reviewer’s mind).
In fact, reviewers can shoot as many poisoned arrows at as many businesses as they want, whenever they feel like it—without ever putting themselves “out there.” It’s like open season on businesses, where Yelp reviewers are always completely “safe” as they remain under cover.
There are also themes among negative posts that further suggest many of these reviewers do have an underdeveloped pons. For example, the review will often focus on being duped or slighted or wronged, personalizing whatever the reviewer perceived happened through a “victim lens.” Yet that, too, is often how people with an underdeveloped pons often view the world—as victims.
Adding to that . . . people with such underdevelopment don’t always even process what was actually said—even though they’ll insist that what they “heard” was correct. But, again, since Yelp’s format doesn’t require any verification of the “facts” presented in a review, such people’s version of events is then portrayed as . . . being accurate. In other words, Yelp does not ever hold reviewers accountable for writing the truth.
To be clear . . . my problem is not with Yelp reviewers. After all, they’re just doing what’s been presented as possible. And, of course, I’m not saying that every Yelp reviewer has an underdeveloped pons or that people in their cortex never have a negative experience. Hardly.
But my problem is that Yelp takes advantage of and then exploits people with an underdeveloped pons. For example, if Yelp mandated that people had to submit their full name (as required when people send letters to the editor in newspapers), then that would eliminate much of the “flight” potential that’s present when anyone can say whatever they want and remain anonymous.
What Yelp Doesn’t Tell You
Yelp has a filtering system, where Yelp decides which reviews remain visible and which are filtered—and they do this without ever making this process common knowledge to the public.
So, if you have X-ray vision, you might note some very fine print at the end of the chosen reviews that says “filtered.” And if even if you find this microscopic word—and understand what it means in terms of Yelp–you still have to click on it and jump through a few more hoops before you can finally read those hidden reviews.
Now, I need to write that Yelp claims they use an algorithm that determines which posts remain visible and which are filtered. However that algorithm is “top secret,” and even Yelp admits that it “sometimes affects perfectly legitimate reviews and misses some fake ones, too.”
However, there has been A LOT of discussion that suggests Yelp’s review selection process is not as random as they claim. For example, many business owners contend that “bad” reviews stay visible while good ones are filtered if the business does not purchase advertisements on Yelp.
Our own Brain Highways experience gives some credence to such concerns. We have been continually asked to pay to advertise on Yelp, but we have not done so. And guess what? We have just three visible Yelp reviews of Brain Highways. Two of those reviews are not positive, while the one that appears . . . is like the shortest review ever.
Now, if those three reviews had truly been all that was ever written about Brain Highways, I would still stand by my conviction that the two negative reviews do not reflect the overwhelming positive feedback we’ve received over the years. But I’d accept those posts as reflections of those people’s experiences. (I would wonder, though, why such comments were never expressed either to staff or as responses to any of our questionnaires during the four months the reviewer was in the program.)
However, Yelp has currently filtered TEN Brain Highways reviews—and nine of those had 5-stars. Hmmmmm . . .
So, that’s not only frustrating to us, but it is also greatly misleading to the public. For example, if people who are interested in brain organization just read those three unfiltered reviews, they may decide that neuroplasticity is not possible or feasible for the average family. Yet, that conclusion is nowhere in sync with 6,000+ participants who have completed the Brain Highways program and have experienced great changes and improvements in their lives.
How Yelp Entices People in their Pons
I also have concerns when people start to get a distorted sense of power—which is additionally common among people with an underdeveloped pons. That’s because, in my experience, such intoxicating power only escalates. For example, with Yelp’s encouragement, the more a person “yelps,” the higher probability reviews from such people will stay posted, rather than be relegated to the filtered junkyard.
So what does that mean? Well, negative people will continue to get some thrills from seeing their attacking reviews remain in print, while positive people will likely get discouraged (and not continue) to write reviews, especially after seeing what they wrote didn’t make the “cut” by Yelp standards. However, that scenario then actually affects the public the most since they now get a distorted view of a business (and most likely, do not even know that other reviews have been filtered).
As a business owner, my only Yelp options are to ignore the review (but then that could easily be interpreted as the reviewer was “right” since there is no response to say otherwise), comment below the review (but doing that then automatically suggest the review is credible and in need of a response) or contact the reviewer via the secret Yelp way (meaning the reviewer’s identity still remains secret).
But since the Yelp reviewer remains anonymous at all times, responding directly to that person may just be a total waste of time since the reviewer could be a competitor who fabricated the review as a way of sabotage. In such case, no response is going to “rectify” anything.
Viewing Yelp from the Cortex
There’s always a chance to learn something from any situation, right? So what might we glean from Yelp?
Well, I for one no longer give credence to any rating or review (and not just on Yelp)—positive or negative—if the person’s full name is not included. That seems simple enough, and such a stance could greatly influence exchanges on the internet if that mindset became mainstream.
Yelp might also encourage us to reflect on whether we’ve provided a way for people to express their concerns in a positive, productive manner wherever we are in charge—whether it’s at a business or our home. Note that such an approach is opposite of encouraging people to whine and complain.
At Brain Highways, we’ve created a whole system called “Taking Care of Business” that presents a positive approach for both parents and kids to express whatever they’re thinking. But this way of communicating is based on a desire to first connect with someone and then explore ways to find common ground in order to move forward. However, if someone is not interested in making a sincere connection or finding common ground, well then, I admit . . . the Yelp format is going to be a very appealing alternative.
When thinking about Yelp, a positive, new idea also came to mind. I’d love to see someone create an online Help format that focuses on problem-solving, rather than just encouraging a recap of whatever irritated, annoyed, and aggravated someone. Such a site might have a simple format that looks something like this:
Now that kind of information might actually be helpful to someone interested in learning about a business. It would also require the person who experienced a problem to take responsibility by first directly contacting the business and by attempting to resolve the situation.
Again, please note that I am not judging anyone who has written a Yelp review. I fully acknowledge that people have the right to post whatever review they want, as well as concede that Yelp has the right to also set up its business as it pleases.
Just can’t help wishing there was a demand for a “Help” site, where the focus was on assisting people to move forward in a positive way and ensuring that the public was given an accurate view of a business.
What if some of our thoughts aren’t really ours—yet, we’ve been carrying them around for years, maybe even for decades, as though they originated in our own mind?
Here’s an example of how that might be possible.
Suppose the chronic pain in your knee miraculously disappears after taking a new medicine. But then, you discover you were actually in the clinical group that was given just sugar pills. In other words, you were given a placebo, not the actual drug that was being tested.
So here’s my first question. Is there a subconscious positive or negative association with the word placebo? When I answered that question myself, I realized that I viewed placebos in a not-so-positive light.
Then I asked that same question to a random group of people. Every person, but one (who said the word was neutral to her), also viewed placebos in a negative way.
When I prodded a bit more to learn what was so negative about placebos, people said they associated the word with “being duped” or “proof that a problem was just in your head” or “to fall for a placebo, you couldn’t be very smart” or some other framing that did not paint a pretty picture of the word.
So, the second question was: Who may have imprinted placebos as negative—and without our awareness? The latter part of the question was interesting because of those I questioned, no one could recall a specific person or situation that actually caused them to think that way.
And yet, we all “got” the same message: Placebos aren’t viewed as something positive.
So then, who put that message out there? Well, I can only guess. For one, pharmaceutical companies can’t be thrilled with scientific studies that prove people can get better . . . on their own, right? That fact certainly doesn’t sell drugs.
And doctors who have gone to medical school for more than eight-plus years also aren’t going to be high on the list to imprint the idea that our very own minds might trump all their schooling and experience. And, in truth, we may have been very willing to believe that someone else needs to heal us because handing over all the power to someone smarter and more experienced then absolves us from taking personal responsibility to heal ourselves. (Note: This blog is not to challenge conventional medicine, so stay with me to get to the main point.)
But here’s the important part. I started thinking . . . what if I wiped out prior imprints about placebos from my mind? In such case, what do I, Nancy Green, really think about placebos?
Well, I was floored. Turns out that I actually think placebos are AMAZING! Heck, they’re scientific proof that our very own minds can heal! To me, that’s a happy dance, ten times over!
In fact, if I’m ever part of a formal study, and I improve with the placebo effect, I’m now going to think that I did even BETTER than those who did well by taking the actual medicine. After all, that would mean I could get the same results as those taking the drugs, but without ever paying a dime or putting anything foreign into my body that may have potential side effects. That would be awesome!
Again, the point here is not to forgo all medicine or to never to see a doctor. I’m just using placebos as an example to encourage people to pause and ponder how many of their thoughts . . . may actually belong to someone else.
In other words, what if it’s someone else’s imprint that we’re not smart enough to (fill in the blank) or we’re not worthy enough to (fill in the blank) or we don’t even realize we’ve been carrying around other people’s fears and judgments?
So, why not take inventory of our thoughts? Which do we truly believe—and which may have been passed onto our subconscious mind?
Here are some common thoughts that we may certainly believe, or . . . did we inherit them from others, and they’re now masquerading as our own?
Note that none of the above is a universal truth, meaning that not every person absolutely believes those statements as fact. But what if we now decide such thoughts (or other thoughts from our inventory) do not truly reflect what we believe (i.e. they were ideas imprinted on our subconscious mind)? How might that then change what we are doing, right now in our life? After all, it would really be a drag to continue to do this or that because we are acting on someone else’s beliefs. That’s why becoming aware of other people’s imprints on our own subconscious mind can bring about such powerful changes.
So then, all that got me thinking . . . if positive thinking can improve physical symptoms, then could negative thoughts, in turn, create undesirable physical symptoms?
Well, it turns out the answer is yes. While not as well known as placebos, there is something called nocebos, where a negative imprint on the subconscious mind now has an adverse affect on someone’s health or well-being.
For example, when patients in clinical trials were warned of a drug’s potential side effects, approximately twenty-five percent of those taking just sugar pills actually experienced those noted symptoms! In other words, the mere suggestion that patients may experience negative reactions to a medication may be a self-fulfilling prophecy—even if they are just taking sugar pills. There are even documented studies where patients were given nothing but saline (although they were told it was chemotherapy) who actually threw up and lost their hair!
Hmmm . . . so just believing something negative is enough to create an undesirable outcome. So then, how might negative imprints be affecting us in ways we may not even realize?
Suddenly, having more positive than negative people in our lives seems really important. So, if you ranked the people you interact with most often, how many would you give a 10 (on a 1-10 scale), where a 10 score indicates a very positive, optimistic person? And, what ranking would others give you?
The latter answer is important, especially if we’re parents. That’s because our own subconscious minds are communicating with our kids’ subconscious minds almost 95% of the time!
That staggering fact is cause enough to ask ourselves: Each day, do we imprint positive or negative messages on our kids? For example, do we imprint fear of failure, or do we imprint anything is possible?
Now, if you immediately find yourself thinking, well, not everything is possible– is that really your thought, or has that, too, been imprinted on you? (See, how crazy this can get?)
After all, once upon a time, people probably thought it was IMPOSSIBLE to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, let alone land on the moon. Yet, how many of us still carry the “it’s impossible” imprint, rather than this imprint: Anything is possible, but we just haven’t yet figured out how to do (whatever).
It comes down to this. No, we can’t change that we have a subconscious mind or that we imprint and receive such messages all the time. But we can decide whether we make our subconscious our best friend by reducing the overall negativity in our lives. Doing that then increases the probability that more positive than negative imprints enter our mind.
Here’s a short story that illustrates that point.
A bunch of frogs were given the challenge to climb to the top of a summit. Along the way, onlookers were yelling:
“You’ll never make it!”
“That is way too difficult for you!”
“Who do you think you are . . . to even think you can accomplish that!”
In the end, only one frog made it all the way to the top. But later on, the people discovered that this lone frog was actually hearing-impaired, and so . . . he never heard the naysayers.
Well, it sure is good to know that we don’t have to be a frog or hearing-impaired . . . to tune out those who do not move us forward. But we do have to decide that we’re no longer willing to allow others to hijack our thoughts if we want to act in ways that truly reflect what we believe.
Suppose a young man, James Littleton, is accused of being lazy, and it’s his day in court. The prosecution and defense are each going to have their turn to present their case, and then the jury will reach a verdict.
But guess what? The prosecution has no chance of winning a conviction. That’s because laziness is only a perception: Someone else deems that another person has not demonstrated the same level of work ethic or commitment to (whatever) the accuser believes is “appropriate.”
However, perception and fact are not the same. Not only are there varying interpretations as to what constitutes enough work (so that someone is not viewed as “lazy”), but there are other variables that aren’t even likely considered when people pass such judgment.
Namely, people with incomplete lower brain development are always working much, much harder than what the rest of us can know. That’s because we can’t see how their brains are working overtime to compensate for one or more missing automatic brain functions.
People’s motivation to perform is also often linked to what they believe to be important. Here, it may be as simple as someone doesn’t share the same degree of interest as the person “accusing” him or her of being lazy and, therefore, puts forth less effort.
Or, perhaps the accuser doesn’t know how to motivate others to do more. For example, there are some people who are never satisfied with any outcome (they’re always critical—no matter what work has already been completed). In such case, those who interact with these individuals often conclude, “Why bother to even show any effort?”
Yet, people keep tagging others as “lazy” as though none of these variables ever come into play.
That’s why the case against James Littleton has no merit. The prosecution cannot prove (let alone beyond a shadow of a doubt) that he—or anyone else—is guilty of being lazy. We simply cannot convict others based on our own perceptions.
Note that this line of thinking applies to other accusations, as well. For example, annoying is just as much of a perception as lazy. Yes, some people may act in a way that’s not in sync with others’ expectations or desires—but that doesn’t mean those people are annoying.
Interestingly, there are those who continue to tangle perceptions with fact and insist that people truly are lazy, annoying, manipulative (the list goes on). So why might that be?
Well, when we label people with such undesirable terms, we cleverly shift the spotlight away from ourselves and now inadvertently shine it on everyone else. In other words, we believe it’s up to the other person to change. However, so long as we’re waiting for someone else to transform, we’re not likely to move forward.
So, since our perceptions are intricately linked to our actions, we may need to first ask ourselves: Are we making accusations about others . . . that would never hold up in court?
And if we’re the ones being accused, we may want to remind ourselves of the big difference between perception and fact—and that other people’s opinions do not really render us guilty of anything. In fact, we can throw their case out of court any time we choose.
The brain loves to put “things” in categories. So, when we see something similar, our brain is wired to associate it with something it already recognizes. For the most part, that’s a great plan.
But there are two major downsides to this natural tendency of the brain. First, labeling people to be “things” is limiting in that it negates the possibility that another perspective is equally possible. Here are some examples:
So, why do we tend to go with the first, more negative perceptions of such people? Well, the brain also has a natural tendency to shine a spotlight on someone else, rather than on ourselves.
For example, it may be easier to view Tiffany as a liar than to reflect on how we respond to mistakes. It may be easier to view Luke as selfish or manipulative than to model and teach him how to respond in ways that consider everyone’s needs. It may be easier to view Evan as lazy or hyperactive or immature than to explore what parts of brain development are incomplete and learn how to facilitate such changes.
Second, we may be limiting our own creativity when we don’t challenge ourselves to see beyond the “thing” that our brain initially recognizes. Yet, the art of invention is based on envisioning something ordinary in a new and different way.
For example, my memory of a Cambodian refugee still rates as one of my favorite examples of doing just that. After hearing this gentleman play incredible music from an instrument I did not recognize, I asked where he had bought it. He smiled and explained that while it was a common instrument in Cambodia, once here, he couldn’t find the right kind of wood he needed to make it.
So what did he finally use? A baseball bat. Yes, he created that amazing sound from what was originally an old bat that likely spent much of its prior life lying in the dirt. To this day, I’m probably one of the very few people who think of beautiful Cambodian music when watching a ballgame.
But while the brain has a tendency to classify, we don’t have to just accept every first perception and every “thing” as absolute. We can sometimes challenge ourselves to think beyond the traditional viewpoint, the expected, the obvious.
And in doing so, who knows what kind of incredible changes we may then experience?
What is Taking Care of Business?
It’s a cortex way of getting everyone’s needs met. When using this approach, we:
So, how well do you “take care of business?”
To find out, encourage your kids and other family members to take the quiz. Read each situation listed in the quiz and the possible ways to respond. Choose the answer that is most similar to what you’d likely do if you were in that circumstance.
When you’re finished, read the answers and explanations to learn which do and do not reflect taking care of business and why.
To note: This quiz includes problems that both kids and adults often face. So, if a situation seems more applicable for a child or vice-versa, just modify it. For example, a child who does not want to take out the trash can be easily changed to be an adult who does not want to do a particular assignment at work.
Last, it’s important to remember: Taking care of business doesn’t mean that we automatically get the outcome we desire. But, hands-down, it’s still the most likely way we’ll move forward.
Situation 1: You’ve heard that someone is spreading gossip about you that is not true.
a) You bad-mouth that person, as well.
b) You do nothing, and try to avoid that person as much as possible.
c) You call that person out in front of others, demanding an apology.
d) You approach the person and say that you’re thinking she may have some misinformation and would like to clarify (and then do that).
Situation 2: You’re informed of a new rule when you take your father to his health clinic. Starting today, all patients must show a photo ID. However, your father did not bring any ID with him.
a) You reschedule another appointment (and ensure your father brings his ID).
b) You firmly point out that this rule is new, and you were not informed of it previously—so it should not apply today.
c) You acknowledge that you don’t want the person checking patients in to get in trouble by sidestepping the rule, but you’re frustrated since you’ve driven a long way and your father needs this appointment. So, you ask if there are other ways to verify that’s him (e.g. confirm his address, phone number, social security number) that’s already in the computer and . . . with a twinkle in your eye, use your hands to frame his face and say, “And this could be the photo ID.”
d) You tell the person checking patients in (who knows your father) that it’s silly to ask him for an ID since he already greeted him by name.
Situation 3: You’re sitting on the sidelines during the tournament, and it doesn’t appear that you’re ever going to get to play.
a) You sit stoically, but then break down (i.e. become upset) once you’re alone with your parents.
b) You act as though you don’t care while everyone else is being subbed in the game (don’t even watch all of the game).
c) You get up and demand that the coach gives you a chance to play, pointing out that you paid your money to be in this tournament, too.
d) You are fully engaged from the sidelines, watching what players on the field do that may have earned them time on the field. After the game is over, you ask the coach to give you three specifics to work on that may result in more playing time for you.
Situation 4: Someone has just criticized you in front of others.
a) You defend yourself.
b) You say something that is critical of that person.
c) You say nothing.
d) You respond by shining the spotlight back on that person and saying, “What were you hoping I’d do with that information?”
Situation 5: You don’t like the chore of taking out the trash, but that’s the job you’ve been assigned.
a) You whine whenever you have to do this.
b) You approach your parents and say: I know that we all need to pitch in to help around the house, but you may not know . . .I really don’t like taking out the trash. Is there another chore I could do instead of that one?
c) You do a terrible job (e.g. spill trash), hoping that your parents will think they need to assign this chore to someone else.
d) You do it, but you scowl to make it clear that you don’t like this job.
Situation 6: Various co-workers never clean up their dishes or trash after eating in the staff lounge.
a) You complain about those who don’t clean up to those who do.
b) You send an email to all your co-workers saying, “Due to budget cuts, we’ve had to lay off the maid for the staff lounge.”
c) You send an email to everyone saying, “Due to budget cuts, we’ve had to lay off the maid for the staff lounge;) So, how about we agree to a day where each of us is in charge of making sure all dishes are washed and all trash is cleared from the tables? If you’re willing to do so, please email me which day(s) would work best for you to assume that role. Thanks.”
d) Pick up after those who leave their dishes and trash—and do not say a word.
Situation 1: You’ve heard that someone is spreading gossip about you that is not true.
This response does not judge the person or assume she was trying to “hurt” you by telling others false information. It also gives you a chance to clarify, without putting the other person on the defensive.
Responses “a” and “c” will only likely escalate the situation. Even if in response “c” you note what information was false, that part of the message won’t be heard since the approach is accusatory and focused on making the other person admit she was wrong.
Note that response “b” is only a possible solution if gossip truly does not bother you or whatever is being spread will not cause future problems (as a result of others hearing and acting on the misinformation) or if you can actually avoid that person. Those are a lot of variables, which is why this response may not actually take care of business.
Situation 2: You’re informed of a new rule when you take your father to his health clinic: Starting today, all patients must show a photo ID. However, your father did not bring any ID with him.
This response acknowledges that the person who works at the clinic needs to do his job as directed while also giving him an opportunity to meet your need (i.e. have your father keep his appointment).
Response “a” meets the need of the person checking patients in, but it does not meet your father’s need to keep his appointment that day. Responses “b” and “d” do not acknowledge that the person who works at the clinic is trying to follow the new rules and will likely put that person on the defensive.
Situation 3: You’re sitting on the sidelines during the tournament, and it doesn’t appear that you’re ever going to get to play.
This response allows the coach to know what you’re needing and wanting while shining the spotlight on him to give you specific ways to improve.
Responses “a,” “b,” and “c” do nothing to move you forward (i.e. get more playing time). In fact, response “c” is just likely to put the coach on the defensive.
Situation 4: Someone has just criticized you in front of others.
This response sidesteps a need to defend yourself, while asking the person who made the comment to clarify his intent behind sharing the comment. By doing the latter, the focus is immediately placed on the person who made the comment, rather than on you.
Responses “a” and “b” will only escalate the situation. If you say nothing (response “c”), you may still antagonize the person if he thinks you’re ignoring him (and he will then likely criticize you more).
Situation 5: You don’t like the chore of taking out the trash, but that’s the job you’ve been assigned to do.
This response acknowledges that all family members need to contribute and help around the house, while opening the door to explore whether there’s any flexibility in who does what job.
Response “a,” c,” and “d” do not take care of business because there is no acknowledgment as to why you might be asked to do this chore. Moreover, if continual whining or scowling or passive aggressive behavior (i.e. doing a terrible job) ultimately gets you out of doing the chore, you have not only missed an opportunity to take care of business, but your brain now also incorrectly registers that such unproductive behavior may be helpful.
Situation 6: Various coworkers never clean up their dishes or trash after eating in the staff lounge.
This response begins by using humor. Yet, unlike “b,” this answer also specifically notes what isn’t being cleaned in the lounge and offers a solution/doable to improve the situation. This response additionally asks, rather than tells, co-workers to take responsibility. Last, it gives yet another doable by spelling out exactly how coworkers can respond if they agree to be in charge of clean-up for a day.
In contrast, response “a” (like “b”) does nothing to improve the situation.
Yes, response “d” ensures that the staff lounge is clean. But, over time, you may start to feel as though you’re the only one being responsible and, therefore, start to judge or resent those who continue to leave their mess, as well as those who do nothing to remedy the situation.