PEEPLE, DEHUMANIZATION AND MOTIVATION

PEEPLE

This page is in no way discussing the company “peeple” which is based out of Austin, TX. That company is developing a smart camera that attaches to existing peepholes and easily connects to home Wi-Fi to identify & inform you of who is at your door.

This is a review of the events that are ongoing with the upcoming Peeple app. This page was originally created on October 4th, 2015 will be updated with further developments as they become available. 

Latest Update: Julia Cordray has made a post on linkedin that has over 200 comments at this time, most of them negative. Forthepeeple.com has been updated with opportunity for those interested to “Join the positive revolution #oct12”

I’ve always been a bit worried about how things are reviewed online, especially when you have a 5 or 10 star rating system in place. What is the lowest number you are willing to accept before clicking the yes button? What exactly is a 3 out of 5 or a 6 out of 10 when reviewing something online? Everyone has a different way of looking at these numbers put in place so there is no exact science as to what qualifies as a solid product or service. I do, however see the value in reviews as long as a written explanation is put forward. I much prefer a like/dislike system when it comes to products and services along with a written review. How we got to this point in where humans are encouraging other humans to rate each other is disheartening.

Peeple is an upcoming app in which you can be reviewed personally, professionally and romantically. The project has caused quite a bit of an uproar in the past couple of days with negative comments from people on twitter, T-Mobile CEO John Legere, and several other media outlets. The negative backlash should come as no surprise to anyone as the very idea of putting a static score on people is something that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

I took a few days to let my thoughts sink in, read through many comments online and the recent CEO update titled “An Ode to Courage”

An Ode to Courage: Innovators are often put down because people are scared and they don’t understand. We are bold innovators and sending big waves into motion and we will not apologize for that because we love you enough to give you this gift. We know you are amazing, special, and unique individuals and most likely would never shout that from the rooftops. The people who know you will though…they choose to be around you and in your life and support you even when you don’t like yourself. We have come so far as a society but in a digital world we are becoming so disconnected and lonely. You deserve better and to have more abundance, joy, and real authentic connections. You deserve to make better decisions with more information to protect your children and your biggest assets. You have worked so hard to get the reputation you have among the people that know you. As innovators we want to make your life better and have the opportunity to prove how great it feels to be loved by so many in a public space. We are a positivity app launching in November 2015. Whether you love us or our concept or not; we still welcome everyone to explore this online village of love and abundance for all.

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So there are a couple of things wrong with this update to go along with some of the recent actions taken.

The first 2 sentences:

Innovators are often put down because people are scared and they don’t understand. We are bold innovators and sending big waves into motion and we will not apologize for that because we love you enough to give you this gift.

This is a classic defensive opening, but also dismissing the overwhelming majority that have taken issue with this project. There is always something to keep in mind when working and that is to not open with the attitude that everyone is misinterpreting your idea from the very start if negativity arises. I tend to believe that most people will understand concepts put forward and simply dismissing the majority because “they don’t understand” is a bad idea. The start also comes across as a bit narcissistic or oblivious as to why so many would take issue with the concept put forward.

The next 2 sentences:

We know you are amazing, special, and unique individuals and most likely would never shout that from the rooftops. The people who know you will though…they choose to be around you and in your life and support you even when you don’t like yourself.

I would hope that if the CEO or those behind this project feel that you are amazing, special, and unique that they wouldn’t dismiss the majority with a blanket “They don’t understand” opening like they did. There are several contradictions in this 3rd sentence and appears to be more of a PR response rather than a well put together thought. I find it offensive to those who have a great deal of concern with the project to immediately be dismissed, but then get empty compliments shortly after. The 4th sentence is something most can relate with, but doesn’t necessarily mean it is something that people are comfortable sharing with the public.

Sentences 5 and 6:

We have come so far as a society but in a digital world we are becoming so disconnected and lonely. You deserve better and to have more abundance, joy, and real authentic connections.

These 2 sentences are true and is the core behind my project, but there are some flaws when it comes to the execution of the Peeple app as proposed today. I have concerns with how we are becoming disconnected via these social networking platforms and how everyone is glued to their phones all day, but I don’t think that a forced solution and a metric on every single person is the answer. We DO deserve better tools to share with our connections, I just don’t believe that it HAS to be displayed publicly without the power to control your profile.

There are many sites/apps in which members rate others based on physical appearances and other superficial characteristics, but those never truly impact the world in any meaningful way. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram don’t have a “rating” feature and are very popular due to the fact that it helps people connect.

The rest of the update:

You deserve to make better decisions with more information to protect your children and your biggest assets. You have worked so hard to get the reputation you have among the people that know you. As innovators we want to make your life better and have the opportunity to prove how great it feels to be loved by so many in a public space. We are a positivity app launching in November 2015. Whether you love us or our concept or not; we still welcome everyone to explore this online village of love and abundance for all.

The last few sentences of this update offers a bit of insight behind the motivation to develop this project. I don’t consider the apps we have currently as a public space to display affection. I don’t go to the park and start handing out personal ratings to my friends so that the public can view them. It remains to be seen if Peeple is indeed a positivity app post launch because it has initially raised more concerns and negativity surrounding the project than I think they were prepared to face. A change.org petition currently has over 7,100 signatures calling for Apple and Google to ban the launch of “Peeple”.

Also, isn’t a bit ironic that a startup that is promoting public displays of affection has disabled youtube comments, has it’s facebook, instagram and twitter pages currently down or private? Julia Cordray’s personal facebook page is apparently also down only a few days after asking if anyone knew how to disable comments.

The contradictions here are incredibly offensive so it is no surprise that it seems like this project might have already been shut down by the internet. I will definitely keep my eye on further developments, but I hope this serves as a painful reminder to those behind this app. This entire project comes across as cold, dividing and disrespectful by dismissing the concerns people have by simply stating that they are “scared and they don’t understand”. I refuse to believe that there was any malicious intent behind this project and will try to contact Julia Cordray soon.

Update: 8.4.15 – 5:50PM
I have reached out to Julia Cordray for a few minutes this afternoon and she informed me that there will be more information regarding “peeple” in the coming days. I will update this page on any further developments.

Update: 8.5.15 – 10AM
Julia has made a post on Linkedin titled “I became a Trending Topic for the Wrong Reasons. Here’s Why we need Peeple, the Positivity App I’m building“. Julia seems to have modified her vision for Peeple and is now a “positivity only” app which is 100% opt-in. She is getting slammed in the comments section for the contradictions that have been made. Unfortunately, I think the post comments on linkedin highlights some of the fears people online have had all along with an app like Peeple. The death threats she has received are unacceptable, but unfortunately something that happens on the internet often. It is becoming clearer that Julia and her team did not fully think this through and she is now unfortunately dealing with a harsh backlash as a result.

I think that initially this app was created with good intentions, but I am starting to doubt that position as things continue to develop. When developing a website, app, or any offline project the concerns of the majority are usually right and in this case Julia has failed to acknowledge that this wasn’t a misinterpretation by the majority. This linkedin post was a great opportunity for Julia to show empathy, acknowledge the mistakes and apologize to those she had dismissed. This entire situation is slowly turning into a case study on how NOT to launch an app.

The app’s website forthepeeple.com has been updated and no longer has the original message posted up top or the original FAQ. The new page now has a button to join the waiting list and is encouraging people to “join the positive revolution #oct12”.

DEHUMANIZATION

I started noticing a trend many years ago in where people have become obsessed with attaching ratings to everything. For the most part this is mostly reserved for products and services, but it appears that rating other people is something that a few find productive.

An argument can be made that people receiving a rating in personal aspects of their lives can be dehumanizing. People have several hundred connections and constantly evolving relationships that cannot be simply measured on a static 5 star system. It is irresponsible and an extremely narrow way to view homo sapiens.Let’s put the absurdity behind the idea aside and attempt to go down this rabbit hole together to see where we end up.

What is a 5 star human? No arguments in the past 365 days in a romantic relationship? No disagreements with your friends whom you talk with everyday? What is the proper guideline to follow when rating another human being? Is a disagreement a half point penalty for the next 365? Maybe you didn’t like the fact that your friend beat your ass in HALO in a manner in which you consider cheating? Is this now a 3 star human for the next year? I understand that I am being a bit facetious here, but what are the guidelines? Link me if you find anything worth checking out so that I can start rating my friends and text them an appropriate 1-5 star rating. How does one verify the legitimacy of the individual when there are plenty of fake facebook accounts older than 6 months that can be used to cause harm on individuals on an app like Peeple? This does not appear to be a well thought out plan, regardless of the intent.

MOTIVATION

My motivation this week comes from YOU, the people. It strengthens a few of my core positions that I have in development and allows me to listen to reactions all over the internet after this absurd app idea came to light. We have made a ton of progress in where people refuse to be objectified and divided, but the fact that “peeple” is in development and also received funding to launch tells me that there is still a bit of work to be done.

The video I have had in mind the past few days was an Adidas promo “Impossible is Nothing” featuring David Beckham. This video has a happy ending, but I would like to focus on the negative. Public figures have so much to deal due to the fact that it is tougher for them to escape negative memories in this digitally connected world. David Beckham received death threats, was being told that he let his entire country and family down and he never felt safe for 3 1/2 years. What was his crime? A failure against Argentina in 1998…A soccer game. The fear of something like Peeple is the fact that there will now be a directory in where negative memories have to be managed by the individual or be publicly displayed for at least a year. We already have so much noise around us and an app in which suggests that people should rate others on a 5 star system has the potential to be incredibly harmful.

More nuggets soon.