The now of January 2020

January, a fresh start, an injection of newness, 31 days or more (as it felt) still straddling multiple notebooks and planners and apps. A blur, with some emotional spikes both up and down but residual good feeling. Some newness to share:

My digital declutter (mentioned last month) is complete. I restricted myself to accessing social media from a browser instead of an app, and the result is that I didn’t miss it much at all. I enjoy knowing what the people I care about are doing and thinking, but using social media to do that wasn’t working for me. Non-chronological feeds stress me out because I can’t track where I left off and I can’t find what I’m looking for. (Instagram refuses to show me FunkyPlaid’s posts, for example, and we’re actual real-life married, opting instead to show me endless advertisements for sunglasses. In Portland.) The economy of likes and retweets is another stress point; did I remember to “like” things that someone I care about has posted so that they know that I see and validate them? Will a retweet (even with a comment) convey the nuance that the context requires?

Is it the speed with which I prefer to get to know people (slowly, methodically, with intention) that is at odds with the speed of the medium? Is it that I am not sharply-tongued enough to keep up with the hot takes? Is it the performative nature of all of this meta-thinking and meta-conversing? All I want to do is share kitten photos and brief excitements over books I’m reading. I’ll keep plugging away here and at “Likes” never existed on, and I’ve just turned them off here.

We’ll just have to talk to each other.

Featured photo: a screenshot taken in Second Life.

Day 352 of Project 365: Live-snarking rom-coms.

Some friends of mine get together regularly to watch romantic comedies and good-naturedly snark about them. Living thousands of miles apart doesn’t stop them: they meet online and sync up their various media players so everyone is experiencing it in real-time. I joined in the fun today and it was exactly the low-key social distraction I needed.

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In related news, “While You Were Sleeping” is an incredibly stressful romantic comedy to watch, since it is all based on a ridiculous lie. This is likely true of most romantic comedies, which is why I tend to avoid them.

Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: only the taps of the keyboard.

Opt out of empathy with the new Peeple app

This morning I glanced at my feed reader and saw a mention of an upcoming app Peeple, “like Yelp for people.” This made me chuckle because I was certain that this was some sort of parody app, similar to Emojli, allowing us to poke fun at ourselves while making a non-subtle statement on how social media objectifies experiences.

No. Peeple is real. And it’s coming to iOS devices next month.

(Its tagline, “Character Is Destiny,” is more Orwellian than anything I could have dreamed.)

I don’t even know where to start with this. Anyone can rate you, and include personally identifying information about you as well. Biased reviews (from someone with an axe to grind) or inaccurate ones (from someone mistaking you for someone else) cannot be deleted. This from their website, in response to “How do I dispute a review of me?”

When another user makes a negative comment about you (2 stars or less) the comment does not go live right away. It goes into your inbox on the app, you will be notified, and now you have 48 hours timer to work it out with the user. If you cannot turn a negative into a positive the comment will go live and then you can publicly defend yourself.

If I can’t convince someone to change their mind — someone who thinks it is socially appropriate to publicly shame me via a negative rating on an app — I can publicly defend myself. There is no way to opt out from being rated. No one involved with the creation or funding of this app has ever been harassed, apparently. Bully for them. For those of us who have, this app is a horrifying glimpse into what happens when people prioritise data over lives.
To the founders and funders of Peeple: go out into the world and have an interaction with a person. Think critically about it. Consider that the person might have been having a rotten day, or a great day, or a normal day. Likely their experience of the same interaction will not match your own. This is totally normal because we are all individuals. Feel something called empathy that allows you to try to put yourself in another’s position. And then write that down in a thing called a notebook. If you really need a rating system, buy some gold stickers and stick them in your notebook. Whatever you do, stop trying to capitalise on the objectification of your fellow human beings. That is, if being human is still important to you. After reading about your app, I have no evidence that it is. Photo credit: Micolo J.

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I acknowledge that I live and work on stolen Cowlitz, Clackamas, Atfalati, and Kalapuya land.
I give respect and reverence to those who came before me.