Lately I’ve been thinking about how people refer to certain things as “the best”. I’ve always been uncomfortable with this proclamation because this type of risk-taking statement can potentially change a relationship.
By calling something “the best” you are taking ownership of something that isn’t yours. You are instantaneously opening yourself up for something outside of your control.
For me, it becomes a problem when you push your personal preferences on me as if they are fact. There is a very good chance that your preferences actually suck because when it comes down to it, a recommendation is nothing more than somebody’s pimped out opinion.
Herein lies the problem; if a recommendation is not the best, or even good, then my judgement of you will change. Instead of saying “the best”, say “it’s good”. Voicing that something is good or bad is more acceptable than “the best” because it polarizes the spectrum of quality into two reasonable categories. Saying that something is “the best” instantaneously vaults your opinion to the very top of the spectrum of what is considered good.
The most relatable example i can think of is food. I have a handful of seminal food moments in my life that make me swoon while thinking about how good my experience was. Clams in Tofino, tuna in the Bahamas, $1 pizza slice in Manhattan—these are my favourites so far. There is a pattern that all of these meals share. I’ve discovered that my favourite food moments have an element of foreign culture involved. With this mind, I’ve recently had a cultural food experience that had me feeling a bit conflicted.
I was eating Pad Thai in Toronto and it was really, really good. I’m conflicted because I’ve eaten in the night markets of Bangkok, the northern provinces and the southern islands of Thailand, and I personally prefer the Pad Thai made in Toronto. Is it the best Pad Thai in the world? Probably not. It was actually pretty salty, but I like salty. The point I’m trying to make is, I’m not going to use my opinion of Thai food as a universal truth. I don’t think anybody should. I don’t even remember the restaurant the food was from; and even if I did, then there’s a good chance that I’m not going to tell you about it. Instead of spreading the gospel, I’m going to keep it a secret. Why? Because the culturally unorthodox experience that I’ve had is what I consider “my favourite”, and I’m not going risk somebody critiquing my experience because they don’t agree with my opinion.
There’s nobility in keeping a well-kept secret. There may be a reclusive quality to introverting my worldly pleasures, but hey, that’s just me. Having “the best” of anything doesn’t appeal to me as much as trying new things and expanding my base of experiences. Challenging my feelings about quality is more important than accepting what is universally considered “the best”. It’s more fun living this way.