Deborah Schoeneman wrote a good profile of a men rating application called Lulu, which allows women to “review” men much like Yelp after having gone out with them:
Mr. Brockway has since gotten several more reviews (#DudeCanCook), none quite as glowing as the one written by his girlfriend, but he nonetheless has an exceptionally high 9.8 ranking. “There’s nothing I can do about it except be the best person I can be,” he said, adding: “It inspires guys to be good and treat girls the way they should be treated. Like angels.”
Not all men are so magnanimous about their presence on Lulu, of course. Last summer, Neel Shah, a comedy writer, was at a bar in Los Angeles on a date with a woman who pulled up his profile. “She started reading me these negative hashtags and I was like, ‘Uh, this is awkward,’ ” said Mr. Shah, 30, whose profile has been viewed 448 times and “favorite” eight times for an average score of 6.7. His hashtags include #TallDarkAndHandsome and #CleansUpGood, along with the less flattering #TemperTantrums and #WanderingEye.
Even in the best light, I find this idea—that an application like Lulu “inspires” men to be “the best person” they can be, through the threat of getting a poor review—to have the same problem that “inspiring” people to be good by threatening them with an eternity of torture has: are you really a good person if the central reason you’re doing it is to avoid something negative for yourself?
Lulu, and Lulu’s backers within the article, are lauding something that attempts to control people’s behavior by public shaming and the literal threat of not being able to get a date as a step forward in civility.
That’s gross enough, but I think it’s worse than that. Neel Shah goes on to describe how one reviewer (isn’t that word alone repulsive in this context? A reviewer of the desirability of a person?) said that laughing at his jokes may take some effort, which is a benign enough comment on its own. But it isn’t on its own; that comment is a public comment on someone’s sense of humor meant to be used for deciding whether to date them or not, and it contributes to an overall numerical ranking for them. Not only does Lulu attempt to publicly shame people (and laude them!), it also attempts to quantify things that are inherently unquantifiable. How do you reduce a person’s desirability down to a one through ten score?