Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I don't care what Barbara Streisand says! People don't need Peeple

As I observe the goings on in the world thousands of ideas, opinions and prejudices swirl around in my head at any given moment.  Golden rule aside, in a flash my opinion of you can literally swing from love to hatred even if we've never spoken a word to each other. 

For instance, you may truly feel a deep, soul burning, hatred for the moron who cut across 3 lanes of rush hour traffic for seemingly no other reason than to further complicate your commute.  But as much as we may revel in those dark thoughts while caught up in the moment, a mile down the road most of us barely summon up the will to be apathetic.

Now imagine if you could form a complete profile of that person based on just that moment in time.

Which brings me to what I can only surmise is a product of the failure of the American public school system to teach anything worthwhile. 


I'm no great fan of social media.  It's just too subjective and frivolous a medium to be taken seriously.  That doesn't seem to stop misguided idealism from taking it to new heights of the ridiculous, however. 

Peeple is best described as an app that elevates the digital equivalent of a popularity contest to a pseudo-science self-worth metric.  Users can evaluate anyone they want so long as they have a relationship with the other person no matter how fleeting.

But that's not the real issue. 

Unlike or Facebook, you don't get the choice to sign up for the abuse.  Instead anyone with a Smartphone and a Facebook account can snap an image and start evaluating you based on nothing more than personal opinion. 

The creators, Nicole McCullogh and Julia Cordray attempt to console us with the app's "integrity features" which among others includes being 21 years old, having an established Facebook account and affirming you actually know the person.  

Verification apparently comes from knowing the person's cell phone number.  A piece of data frequently found on social media and career sites without restriction. 

If you don't sign up for the service you can still end up being evaluated by it but only positive reviews will be allowed.  

Which seems fair if we're playing Devil's advocate but that would seem to invalidate the whole ratings system.  Why not limit ANY ratings to those that choose to BE rated by signing up?

I'm sure that part was for the lawyers.  The real intent is revealed in the discovery that Cordray originally wanted to just scrape names from Facebook but the Facebook API doesn't allow for that.  In other words, in her mind anyone with a Facebook account was fair game for the app.

We live in a very public world, that's a given.  What's disturbing is how many unreliable metrics can affect you in that world, especially online.  That an errant post on social media can cost someone a career or relationship would seem ridiculous were it not so frequently the case.

Even choosing not to participate in social media carries a stigma of its own.  As though being unwilling to participate in such juvenile antics is the mark of deviance and dangerous intent.  People have actually been dismissed from consideration for a job because of a lack of a social media presence. 

It's madness!

Who are we to judge anyway?  What happened to all that lofty idealism of valuing others based on the content of their character instead of the superficial. 

Should I be content to be evaluated like some unwitting head of cattle in an auction?  Is it OK to destroy someone in public simply because they weren't as nice as you'd have liked them to be or elevate them to a pedestal based on nothing more than a passing interest?

Peeple is described as Yelp for People.

To that I say this...

Rate your hotel room....fine
Rate your favorite restaurant ....fine
Rate your Uber driver....fine

Rate people...You've crossed the line!