The scariest thing about Peeple—an app set to launch in November that’s been described by the Washington Post as “Yelp, but for humans”—is that two women thought that the world needs a shortcut to evaluate fellow human beings based on third-party content rather than actually getting to know them. Based on its description, the app has the same flavor as Rate My Professor, but on Peeple your coworkers, long list of ex-lovers, and friends are all fair game, as long as you have their phone number, can confirm you’re 21 years old, and can link an established Facebook account. The Internet response has been largely negative, and there are petitions circulating to stop the app, but while many are calling it the “burn book” of apps, the inherent potential for mean-ness on Peeple is the tip of the iceberg.
I’ve met my share of one-star people. I’ve dealt with people so horrible that I secretly wished for a universal database where I could malign him or her on a grand scale, with a reach far enough that even people in Switzerland could read my review and recoil in disgust at such a reprehensible specimen of a human being. It’s a petty feeling—no different than wanting to personally fire the waitress that tells you the kitchen ran out of chocolate pudding—that usually lasts anywhere from five minutes to 48 hours. While I think that universal database longings are completely healthy in most situations, they almost always subside when cooler heads prevail, but if there’s an app on your home screen that promises you the immediate gratification of Game of Thrones-style shaming someone–a feeling that’s as satisfying in the moment as drunk texting an ex after too many $5 martinis–can we rely on ourselves to pass that up? Peeple gives that fleeting fury a forum to be actualized and rests the abstract notion of karma in the hands of every random who’s still got your digits in their phone.