In the face of a tempting shortcut sometimes the most rebellious thing we can do is play by the rules.
At its core, gentle rebellion is about creating the rhythm, pace, and conditions to build a better world. Even if that means going against the grain and opposing the tempting short term hacks and rewards dangling before us.
This starts small.
A few weeks ago I was looking to buy a portable wireless lapel microphone, for better quality audio on my phone video recordings.
I found one on Amazon with absolutely glowing reviews, which ticked all the desirable boxes.
But when it arrived and I tested it out, I was disappointed to discover a loud electrical hum. And despite multiple attempts to fix or hide it, I couldn’t get rid of the noise.
The microphone was unusable. So I sent it back.
With all the four and five star reviews, I wondered if perhaps I had simply received a faulty product. I created a short video and posted it on the product page to demonstrate the issue and see if anyone else had noticed the same thing.
Not long after, I had an email from the seller apologising for my experience. They offered a free £20 gift card to say sorry. When I wrote back to thank them they asked if I would consider updating my review to reflect my experience of their customer service.
A few days later I received another email noting that while I had updated the review (I added the bit about the gift card), I hadn’t yet changed the rating, which was still two stars. They offered more money, adding that they would be grateful if I could alter it to four or five stars, or just delete it altogether.
Rebelling By The Rules
The penny dropped. Things started to make sense. Mine wasn’t a faulty one.
The positive reviews weren’t about a great product. They were actually about a company successfully (and legitimately) gaming the system. Inviting people like me to help them out while grooming us with positive customer service.
I had a decision to make.
Should I follow the crowd by doing what they generously asked and removing my review? Or should I maintain the sliver of authenticity, integrity, and meaning my review added to the ecosystem?
It was tempting to take the money and remove my rating. It made no odds to me personally. Maybe I should just chill out and stop overthinking it.
But that option bemused my inner rebel. An internal voice that soon won me round to see that the fun, right, and rebellious thing in this situation would be to honour the rules. To go against what I imagined behavioural psychology might predict, and say no to the money altogether.
Why? Because it means more to me to have a world where we help each other out in meaningful ways.
Publish The Review You Wish You’d Seen
This experience represents a microcosm of some larger trends in the world right now. It also reminds us that the little everyday choices we make can scale rapidly, impacting and infecting the big picture.
Do our choices point towards the kind of world we want to be part of?
This experience is not about one company or one person. It’s about all of us and the nature of this reality we are choosing to build together. And small things add up.
It’s about the kind of world we are willing to accept, encourage, and grow. And the world we are inadvertently accepting, encouraging, and growing when we think our choices don’t make a difference.
It’s not easy to make good decisions. Especially when we’re made to feel like we’re on our own and no one else seems to care. But every choice we make creates a tiny ripple in the world. And over space and time ripples turn into waves. Our choices are contagious.
I want you to know you’re not alone. What you do does make a difference, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.
Let’s keep making ripples. Over time they will join together and form waves.