The Internet is a magical place where ideas become reality. It’s a canvas of endless opportunity, where dreamers accomplish things that no one would have thought possible even 20 years ago.
It’s also a cesspool of hate. And judgment. And not to mention discrimination and racism. Spend one hour reading YouTube comments and you can lose all faith in humanity.
And it feels like those boundaries between creative, worthwhile innovation and unbridled superficiality and prejudice have blurred by the day. Essentially, we don’t treat one another like people on the Internet anymore. And no one really seems to mind.
Since we’ve been long heading in that direction, nothing that is invented, regardless of how controversial it is, should really surprise anyone anymore.
That is, until an app called Peeple, where users can give ratings to people that they know, said it was coming, and the Internet got really, really mad.
We’re well past the point where apps can cause people’s feelings to get hurt. Mobile dating apps, specifically, let us judge one another solely on our looks. Ensuing conversation lets us judge based on personality. If some one isn’t up to scratch, you discard them with a swipe of your finger.
But it serves a purpose of potentially finding you a partner, so no one really complains.
Peeple, meanwhile, doesn’t seem to have any real tangible reason to exist besides objectifying people. Conceived by Canadian entrepreneurs Julia Cordray and Nicole McCullough, the app, due to launch in November, was first brought to public attention in the Washington Post last week.
Almost overnight, Peeple became the target of a firestorm of hatred. An online petition is calling on Apple and Google to block the app’s release. The app also deleted its entire social media presence in light of all the negative feedback. (Humorously, there is another Facebook page for an entirely separate invention called Peeple that has been forced to publicly disassociate itself with this new app in recent days — and also begs the question of a potential lawsuit.)
The idea is that you can give a rating of one to five stars — with commentary — to another person, whether it be a friend, an ex, or a neighbor. The Post reported that if you have a Facebook account, you are automatically eligible to be in the system, and once you get reviewed, you cannot opt out. That got people mad.
Critics of the app say that this could be damaging to even the most stable-minded people.
Cordray, who has been documenting the creation of Peeple in an online series, said she had received death threats following the article. But she then amended some of the details she had told the Post, saying in a LinkedIn blog post on Sunday that people won’t be added to the app without granting permission, and that negative comments will not be tolerated. She also admitted she made a mistake classifying it as a “Yelp for people.”
“Peeple is a POSITIVE ONLY APP,” Cordray wrote. “We want to bring positivity and kindness to the world.”
I just find it interesting that this was finally the breaking point for most people. The Internet was already chock full of apps that lack any regard for human emotion. So why is everyone shocked when another one comes along?
Could Peeple bring about the end of humanity? Maybe.
But if it’s not this, then something else will.