09 December 2009

Sound Off

Stand back, griping ahead. I've discovered a very important point as you progress in adult life. "Free" is no longer the only reason to attend something. Back in college, anything advertising "free food" was a must go. Time was abundant and you just needed to fill your days doing something. Fast forward a decade later and "free" doesn't necessarily mean the same thing anymore. Spending your time doing one thing means you aren't doing something else. There's an economics term for that. I want to say that it's "opportunity cost" but somehow I doubt it. If I had paid more attention in my economics classes I would be able to tell you exactly what that term should be. But I didn't since I was deeply engaged in free napping. Actually, if I had paid more attention in my economics classes I would probably be doing something entirely different now. Like um, manning a cubicle in a gleaming glass building downtown, dressed in a snazzy suit and tie.

Still, when you have a chance to go to a Yelp Elite party, a free one, you have to go. George and Co. went last year and they had a grand time at the Exploratorium. They received free drinks and spent their time playing with all the hands-on exhibits. Since I am no Elite Yelper, my friends got me in and I should be grateful, which I am. But I'm gonna go ahead and say it, "The party sucked."

I've realized that the "elite" label Yelp uses is pretty spurious. What makes an elite Yelper? A minimum number of reviews? Well written reviews? Accurate reviews? Lots of fans? Some other random qualifications? I don't know. But from the looks of the line yesterday, I'm pretty sure they give you "elite" status for just about anything. Which explains why we waited in the freezing cold for an hour, wrapped three blocks away from the entrance, along with hundreds of other elites.

Things I don't do anymore: lines, crowds, cold. The Yelp party had all three, which would have been acceptable because it was a special event, but the organization was just horrific. A bajillion staffers working the lines but nobody getting in. If I wanted to stand around for arbitrary reasons, I would have gone to a club. And I don't do that anymore for just that reason. And once you got inside, it's not like there was anything particularly exciting going on. It was just more lines for a few morsels of food. Plus a few artists painting, underwhelming breakdancers, and strangely, some Taiko drummers. They even ran out of Yelp fanny packs, which I was really looking forward to. We did say hello to a co-founder of Pandora, which was cool, but nothing else made the wait in the cold worth it.

I gotta hand it to Yelp. They are geniuses for handing out the elite status to so many people. Everyone likes to be special and what spurs more reviews and use of your site than to give out a title? So with that in mind, everyone commenting here will now be an "elite" fan. That's right. You are all elite! Welcome to the club!

For the record, I've been on the Yelp bandwagon since the beginning but have decided to nose dive off because the reviews are largely useless nowadays. Most restaurants average 3.5 stars and you have no idea if people are actually qualified to review the food in question. One man's amazing fried chicken is my "I wish I had just gone to KFC." Plus people treat their Yelp reviews like journals and ramble on and on about their lives. Hello, that's what blogs are for? Yelp is for reviews.

Needless to say, if Yelp extended me elite status, I'd accept in a nanosecond. I like to feel faux-special too. And really, I think I had fun because even bad experiences can bond people. Plus my Reviewer of the Day friend apparently practices the moves to Beat It for use on the dance floor at just such an occasion.