The Killers once vaguely quoted Hunter S. Thompson with, “Are we human, or are we dancer?” Contrastingly, the Calgary-based mobile app Peeple asked upon its inception, ‘are we human, or are we restaurants?’ But after a storm of outrage and criticism, as The Guardian reported on October 6, the app has been completely overhauled to remove its controversial aspects. It leaves an empty shell of an app behind.
Originally, Peeple allowed people to rate other people similar to how restaurants are rated on apps like Yelp. There would have been a 48-hour period before negative reviews would be made public to allow the parties involved to work out the issues that would have lead to the negative review.
This window would also have allowed the person making the review an opportunity to change their initial negative review to a positive one. Finally, as a way to reduce needless harassment, the app would have required users to login using their Facebook and to provide a contact number.
Unfortunately, this has all been changed. The app now only allows for positive reviews, and this is undoubtedly a bad thing. If you want someone to always tell you that you’re a perfect human no matter what, you’d do best to call your mother. It is a universal truth that not everybody is going to like you.
While the idea of rating other people on a system that is solely based on subjective factors may seem somewhat repellent, it’s actually something that we do everyday. Yet in our daily lives we aren’t given the opportunity to learn what other people don’t like about us, and we can’t grow based on their criticism.
While the idea of rating other people on an app seems somewhat repellent, it’s actually something that we do everyday.
While the Internet is known for shady message boards, subreddits, Twitter feuds, and whatever else, most of these forums are anonymous. Peeple, in its original state, aimed to remove this anonymity. While it would have been possible to create a fake Facebook account and phone number to review a person, the person on the receiving end of that review would know that the reviewer is not an actual person. This would have allowed the receiver to either call reviewer out, or write a response to the negative review.
While the criticisms that caused the app to change were rooted in the ability to give another person a negative review, the issue seems to be less about the app and more a symptom of our current societal state. There is now a distinct trend towards praising people for the slightest things they do, while preventing them from experiencing the harsh realities of failure.
The real world doesn’t allow for this to happen 100 per cent of the time. In reality, nobody cares that you remembered to clean your cat’s litter box, and your boss doesn’t care that you had insomnia if you slept in and missed that conference call with Japan. Many times, when you do something that you are supposed to do, you won’t receive praise. Likewise, when you fail at something, oftentimes you are not allowed make up for it.
Peeple tried to toughen us up by removing some of the bubble wrap that society has placed around itself. Unfortunately, it was suffocated by our society, and became chronically nice instead of honest.
So until another app tries to challenge this mentality, we can only hope to distinguish between whether we are human or dancer.