All your worst fears are coming to an app called Peeple that is being released next month. It allows anyone to rate and review other folks just like they would a restaurant or chiropractor on Yelp. You can’t help but wonder how many broken friendships, verbal assaults and suicides it will eventually inspire.
Here’s how Entertainment Weekly’s Mary Sollosi describes it:
When the app launches, users will be able to review their friends, coworkers, and romantic partners — who may or may not have ever signed on to the app themselves — using a one- to five-star rating scale.
In order to rate somebody, you need to join the app through Facebook using your real name, and you must be at least 21 years old. To review somebody else who is not on the app, you can create a profile for them with their cell phone number; they will be notified via text that they have been added to Peeple, but they won’t have an option to remove their profile from the app.
If you are not on Peeple yourself but others are rating you, then only positive reviews will be posted. If you have, in fact, registered, then negative reviews will be published, but only after 48 hours of being written so that you will have a chance to dispute them.
It’s a genius idea — you’re enticed to register so you can get the temporary high of reading a flattering review of yourself. But once Pandora’s Box is open, there’s no turning back — it’s open season for Peeple reviews, and you’re the target. Maybe you’ll get positive reviews; maybe you’ll get negative ones. You’ll just have to log in at all hours of the day and night to find out.
While there’s some degree of curiosity about an app like this, the thought of it also leaves a sickening feeling in our stomachs. And that sickening feeling is rooted in the fear of having to face what some people have been thinking about us all along but not saying (and certainly not saying in public).
Sure, if we give into temptation and download the app, our friends will probably be gracious in their feedback (right??). But eventually, somebody’s going to strip us naked with their criticism and humiliate us with the same viciousness they would towards a stylist who ruined their hair. And thus would begin the descent of our five-star ranking, which would inevitably suffer further damage from others who decide to critique us publicly. How far down would our rating get before someone would rescue us with another flattering review?
The whole concept for the app reminds me of the children’s book, You Are Special, by Max Lucado. In the story, Punchinello exists in a world of small, wooden people called the Wemmicks. Those who earn the approval of others receive stars, and those who earn the disapproval of others receive dots.
Punchinello is covered in dots, but then one day, he meets Eli, the woodcarver who made him. When Eli tells Punchinello that he is special, Punchinello laughs and says, “Me, special? Why?… Why do I matter to you?”
Lucado writes, “Eli looked at Punchinello, put his hands on those small wooden shoulders, and spoke very slowly. ‘Because you’re mine. That’s why you matter to me.'”
Maybe you’ll get an invitation to download Peeple so you can see who thinks you deserve stars and who thinks you deserve dots. Ignore that invitation and accept the invitation to run into the arms of your Maker, who determines your worth based upon the merit of His Son, Jesus Christ. In those arms, you will hear Him say, “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love” (John 15:9, ESV).