Every time my partner and I get talking about what's wrong in the world, the conversation inevitbly ends with one of us saying -- what we desperately need is campaign finance reform. It's just too easy to judge corrupt politicians and greedy capitalists. However, I'm starting to see how preferential treatment influences my own judgement.
I'm building on the ideas I first heard Jesse Hirsh talk about this week -- the power of recommendations. I'm all about openness (to a fault). I love to share and see others benefit from any good deals or worthwhile local activities I've discovered. I also rely on my network of like-minded friends to share with me their fav books, movies, songs, recipes, restaurants, advice, whatever -- just give it to me baby! So what happens when a corporation thanks me for my recommendation? I'm invited to attend a focus group or asked to review some new products in exchange for a little pampering (a few drinks and nibblies to share with other Westboro Moms perhaps)? At that point I am no different than the bought politicians I abhor! And let's face I am a sucker for a pretty face. Sales people love me. So when someone hot shows their appreciation for my oh-so-discriminating taste and tosses a few freebies my way, bias has already been created. What harm is there in saying a few kind words or letting them use me to promote their wares. The obligation is there and who doesn't want a win-win anyway?
*Sigh* Everyone does indeed have a price. Maybe openness is how you counter this. A friend of mine said he recently read a review for a computer game and the reviewer explicitly stated that the software company invited him down to Disney World to review the game. Was his review biased? Probably. But at least he was open about it. Of course people don't want to admit that this is happening. In fact when talking about this today, this same friend said "that's really no different from being flown out to Seattle to meet with Microsoft" .... UGH!
Hell, at least I am aware. I can't stop this from happening. Nor can I judge the sytem. I will continue to offer up and seek out reccomendations (that's just who I am) -- but with a critical eye.