You can “rate” just about any commercial enterprise on-line, and you can see what other people have to say about those enterprises, too. So why not a ratings app that allows every everyday person to “rate” every other member of the general populace — whether that person wants to be “rated” or not?
Gee, what could go wrong with that?
Apparently such an app, called “Peeple,” is going to be rolled out in the near future. It will allow you to post ratings, on a one-star to five-star system, of everyone you’ve known. As currently configured, the app would allow you to be added to the mix by anyone who had your cell phone number — yet another reason to be circumspect in giving that number out, by the way — and once you’re on the site you’re fair game, whether you’re an attention hound who wants to be reviewed by the world, or not.
What’s the reason for such an app? Well, some people say it would be nice to have a reference guide that would help them to determine whether to trust someone they’ve just met, but that seems like a pretty flimsy justification to me. I might pay attention to the overall gist of ratings of a hotel or a restaurant, but are people really going to trust someone in important interpersonal dealings — think of picking a babysitter — because they’ve got one positive review on a mass website from somebody you don’t know?
The real reason for the app seems to be: well, why shouldn’t it exist? We rate everything these days, don’t we? And wouldn’t it be interesting to see what people have to say about each other — and, especially, about you? In a selfie-saturated world, a people-rating site is bound to be appealing to those poor souls who stand at the absolute center of their own little world. They’ll be flipping to that app constantly, checking to see whether they’ve received a new positive review, and posting positive ratings of their friends to encourage reciprocal ratings of themselves. Hey, I’m up to an average rating of 4.75 stars!
If you want to be rated by the world, I suppose that’s fine — although I’m guessing that anyone so self-obsessed is bound to get a negative review or two that might jar their healthy self-image a bit. The real problem is for those folks who would just like to exist without being “rated” by everyone, or thrust into the toxic world of on-line comments. They’re not offering a hotel room or a meal to the general public; they’re not teaching a class or trying to get you to buy a ticket to see their film. They’re just living their lives. Must they really be subjected to “ratings” by people they’ve encountered?
This is another one of those socio-technological developments that seems fraught with peril and destined to produce some serious angst.