The Toxic, Abusive, Addictive, Supportive, Codependent Relationship Between Chefs and Yelpers
Jared Sperli stashed this in internet
Yelp haters gonna hate.
As Yelp has grown from a fledgling San Francisco startup with a handful of amateur reviewers to a publicly traded juggernaut bent on critiquing every corner of our earthly realm, one of its less obvious but more profound effects has been the curious emotional codependency that has developed between chefs and their legions of anonymous critics. Chefs will tell you that they hate those critics—they’ll call them names, casting them as entitled, ignorant whiners desperate for attention that they can’t find elsewhere (Mason’s insult of choice: “complete degenerates”).
But then, sometimes in the same breath, they’ll admit that they need them, that their prospects for success would be dimmer without them, that Yelp is as much a savior as an antagonist. Like a horrible relationship built on great sex, the site has an addictive quality: No matter how lousy and vulnerable it makes them feel, many restaurateurs have a compulsive need to keep returning to the site, to see how they’re being judged. Yelp, in effect, has become the equivalent of the toxic (or worse, abusive) girlfriend or boyfriend that they just can’t quit, even as they worry about compromising their ideals and their sanity. As Charles Bililies, the owner of Souvla, a modestly hip four-month-old souvlaki joint in Hayes Valley, says, “You want some feedback, but don’t want to necessarily empower people so they are controlling you.” Psychologically, he says, “it’s a very, very fine line to walk.”