I slept under the overpass that night, and in the morning, I wrote a review: “Reasonably good bridge. A little loud for sleeping.” I gave it four stars. After I set off on my bike, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Because of Google Reviews — because multiple people took the time to review this squat bridge in the middle of nowhere — I felt like I was part of some shared human experience, the newest member of an obscure club. Maybe the other reviewers would disagree, but this moment felt powerful, like seeing other people’s names etched into a park bench or finding yourself deeply moved by the graffiti inside a public bathroom stall. But it was also weird: This tool for consumer reviews had become a digital guestbook for anything and everything in the world.
It feels impossible to fully connect and empathize with all the people we interact with each day, to see the full existence of every person we pass on the street. It’s easier to keep your head down. But all these stories, these small nuggets of humanity buried in Google Reviews, feel like opportunities for us to practice that empathy.
I think I have been a reader of longreads for the last 10 years. This website is a bliss for readers like me. Also this article shows that the good in people can be found unexpected places.