This Gen-X’er is giving zero stars to this new Yelp-like app for rating people. Unless, of course, you have something nice to say about her.
Last week I thought my world was coming to an end. They were coming out with an app called Peeple. People were going to use it to talk shit about people and in the process become Peeple. More specifically, the woman I asked to move away from the lox tray at a wedding I went to last weekend (I didn’t know she was getting lox too, I thought she was just standing there, I swear, and I said that like three times but it was like reasoning with Cujo) was going to ruin me!
Then it seemed like it might not happen. Now it seems like it might again, but don’t worry, it’s all good! Speaking passionately about her fledgling endeavor on a Linkedin post, Peeple CEO Julia Cordray stresses that Peeple aims to “bring positivity and kindness to the world.” Here is more:
“Peeple is focused on the positive and ONLY THE POSITIVE as a 100% OPT-IN system. You will NOT be on our platform without your explicit permission. There is no 48-hour waiting period to remove negative comments. There is no way to even make negative comments. Simply stated, if you don’t explicitly say ‘approve recommendation,’ it will not be visible on our platform.”
The tiny part of me that actually gives any fucks about yet another trifling bullshit app was so relieved! After all, I went to middle school in the ‘80s—back when you’d say to your teacher “I’m being bullied” and they’d be like “I’m reading the sports section,” and then you’d go home and tell your parents “I’m being bullied” and they’d be like “That’s great, who are you again?” With the amount of cruelty I weathered in grade school, middle school, and even high school, I can get an almost opiate high out of imagining that somewhere out there, someone is eviscerating my character, guffawing over my choice of footwear, reading my sentences aloud and shouting “what idiocy!,” and I will never know.
So why am I not full of warm fuzzies about the prospect of
people Peeple saying nice things to my face? Or to my interface, as it were! I’m sorry, that was a stupid joke. You’re probably a little bummed that Peeple doesn’t yet exist and isn’t as mean as we thought it was going to be, and that you can’t rush off and Peeple me: “Sarah Miller was born like 10,000 years ago and therefore makes ham-fisted jokes about the internet which she would probably capitalize if she were writing it rotflmao.”
Anyway, a few things that could maybe go wrong with this positive version of Peeple:
1. No one will say anything about me at all, while all my friends will get lots of nice comments, which will arrive in my inbox in a steady stream, all with the subject heading “Aww!”
2. With her special positivity software, Cordray will single out all the people no one raves about on Peeple, and send us holiday cards reading “People seem indifferent to you, but Peeple thinks you’re swell.”
3. I will be forced to spend Valuable Time cyber-stalking any woman who writes nice things about my boyfriend.
4. People/Peeple will always be talking about what a good writer I am, and how smart I am, and my boyfriend will be forced to spend all his time assuring me that everyone thinks I am pretty, too, and a good cook.
5. There is only one comment I ever want to see on Peeple and I never will: “Sarah Miller: Your brilliance and charm and wit and beauty are all present in such abundance that you may immediately cease all efforts to impress anyone in any manner. Here is a large television set that plays new episodes of The Good Wife and Homeland in a loop, a pile of money, a house in France, and membership in a club that will send you a case of extremely rare Burgundy every week—of course, only until you have exhausted your interest in this region and want to move onto another one of distinction.”
But really, I would settle for someone posting a message telling me I was okay and everything was going to turn out fine.
I am not particularly worried about Cordray’s company succeeding or failing, though either way, she should stop wearing a fedora. And it’s not that I don’t like positive feedback, I just don’t want it to be in an app. But that’s not a terribly original reaction. I’m a Gen X-er, and we hate apps, because they are living proof that we are obsolete and dying and have to work every day while people half our age sit around giving TED Talks and making jam. What I really take issue with is the idea we need another platform for people to quickly share their opinions, even if those opinions are positive. How about an app which, every time you’re about to post something on social media that you know nothing about, suddenly locks you in a box. There’s nothing in the box but a couple bottles of water, some Fig Newtons, a copy of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me and Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything, and a five-question essay on each book. You don’t get out until you pass. Somebody invent that.
It’s not just about the stories. Journalism is also about who is telling them.
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