This is not usually a place where I comment on the news, or the twitter version of the news. There are better blogs or people to follow for that. However when I did my post breakfast scroll through twitter this morning I could not help noticing that there was a lot of concern, distress even, about a new app about to be released called Peeple.
The idea behind the app is that you rate people you know (or have the phone number of) and others can log in and read your feedback. There is no opt out, as in anyone, anywhere who has a Facebook profile and your phone number can “review” you. Your only form of redress is 48 hours where the onus is on you to “turn the negative into a positive”, which suggests a form of victim blaming to me.
Many have highlighted the potential for abuse, bullying, outing, for exes to leave bad feedback, for abusers to trigger, for victims of stalking and harassment to be sent, directly to their phone, feedback from their stalkers. Even so-called positive reviews could be used maliciously in a huge number of ways. Even as I saw many people point out the ways Peeple could be used to hurt others two further thoughts were forming in my head.
The Need For Validation.
It might seem very natural, a very human need to have others like us. Dont we all smile at a compliment? Or check how many retweets or likes a social media post has? However there is a point at which needing the approval, the validation, of others ceases to be a pleasure, and is actually damaging. Part of the goal of therapy is for people to understand it is self validation that matters, or, as a wise writer put it “to thine own self be true”.
We all have a self concept, a mental picture of who we are, formed by our experiences, up bringing, education, and the messages we receive from others. When our self concept is rooted in the messages others give us we are said to have an external locus of evaluation. Being reliant on others to feel valid, that we have worth and value is like walking a tightrope, every step carrying the potential for a fall.
However when we have an internal locus of evaluation we rely on ourselves, our sense of worth and value is related to how much we feel we are measuring up to our own ideas of who we are. We can let ourselves down, but if we do so, we now who is setting the yardstick, setting the rules we are playing by, and perhaps most importantly who we have to please to get things back on track. An internal locus of evaluation is about saying “I matter enough to set my own standards and to live by them, to approve of myself”. It’s about self-love.
[Image description, barbed wire crosses the picture, and the words “If you care what other people think you will always be their prisoner Lao Tzu”]
I am not a number.
The second, perhaps more philosophical problem that came to my mind was discomfort at the very idea of rating other human beings on a numeric scale. To sum up the entirety of someones existence with a number seems not only arrogant, but how accurate can that ever be? I may think my partner is an 11/10, after all they are my partner.You may think they are a generous 6, neither of us is right or wrong,we just have different opinions. Once we decide that individuals can be reduced to a number are we not in danger of reducing the wonder, and diversity of humanity? Even if you can give feedback, again it is just subjective. All the app will do is allow people to pass judgement on others, a wholly subjective judgement, which perhaps tells us more about the users of the app than those being rated.
The founder is quoted as saying
It doesn’t matter how far apart we are in likes or dislikes,” she tells some bro at a bar in episode 10. “All that matters is what people say about us.
I have to disagree, our likes and dislike are part of what make us unique, and what people say about us is ephemera, which matters less the more we like ourselves. I hope this app never passes beta testing, but most of all I hope one day the people behind peeple learn the vital lesson of self love, self worth, and ignoring what others say about us.