Creeper Apps

Sections: Web 2.0 / Social Networking, Web Apps

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Has anyone else noticed the influx of apps designed to digitize the way we navigate our sex lives?  So okay, I’ve already talked about Lulu, the app that lets women make questionable Yelp-like reviews of men they know, but there’s plenty of other apps of this genre out there.

For the ultra lurkers we’ve got the On The Rebound app, which goes one step creepier by using mysterious Facebook search algorithms to determine whether someone is lonely enough to want a relationship.  People are rated on a scale of 1-100 on how bad they want it, with some vaguely insulting assessments for the lonely ones.  After my sister came up with the description “Loneliness + Desperation = Opportunity” I quickly closed that window, ’cause good gravy, who wants to see that.

Then there’s been some buzz about Bang With Friends (link potentially NSFW), the app that offers a platform (metaphorically speaking) for users to have anonymous sex with like-minded Facebook friends.  This one purports to take the “awkwardness” out of casual sex by turning your friends list into something like an Amazon wishlist.  After checking it out for myself, I have to say the prospect of clicking “I’d like bang” on any of my platonic female friends is just too sleazy for me to go through with. These are living, breathing people I’m looking at, not breakfast cereals.

Even if I find out they’re down to bang, how exactly does this make the process less awkward?  There’s still the part where you have to you know, actually talk to the other human being.  How does that go?

More importantly, why are these app programmers mediating human relationships in this way?  Are we so caught up in the idea that apps can solve every petty problem in our lives that we’re willing to turn the social sphere into a series of interactive menus for the sake of convenience?   Certainly there’s something fun and even tongue-in-cheek about the apps, and granted there’s nothing inherently wrong with casual sex or informing yourself about the people you might want to pursue.  Yet it’s hard to shake the feeling that these screens are taking all the maturity out of human relations, all the mutual respect and dialog, and sort of just cynically accepting that deep down we’d rather be anonymous creepers, that we are in reality just too cowardly to be forthright with each other about our feelings and desires and need technology to overcome this.

Which might even be true for some (if not many) people, but still, should we be encouraging this sort of behavior?

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  • Juli Monroe

    “nothing inherently wrong with casual sex”? You’ve done it now. The Moral Majority will come down on us hard. Assuming they still exist. Did I just very badly date myself?

  • James Christy

    Moral Majority? I figured they went the way of the slap bracelet.

  • Anthony Coombs

    Hey James,

    I’m one of the creators of OTR. Thanks for the coverage, we appreciate it. The whole idea for the app came after a girl I knew had gotten out of a long term relationship. Instead of asking her out (i.e. getting her on the rebound) I waited. But wouldn’t you know that in that time she hooked up with a friend of mine and they’ve been together even since? That was how we decided to come up with the app. It’s definitely different and takes FB stalking to another level. Either way, it’s supposed to be for fun. So far, no complaints from users.


    • James Christy

      Thanks for stopping by Anthony. I hope you were not offended, I did not intend to insult you or the other app creators personally. My main point, which was slightly obscure in my post, was that these apps and the mainstream social media/surveillance culture that enables them are symptomatic of a larger, more alarming change in the way we treat other human beings. This isn’t just the cliche of “the shift in the way we date,” but goes for all human relationships (boss/worker, parent/child, etc etc).

      Your story re the genesis of this app is relevant here: in the pre-Facebook days, you would have talked to people the girl knew or the girl herself to find out if she was ready to date again. This would force you to partake in all the messy human drama, the he-said-she-said, and I’m in no way defending that as an inherently nobler or better way.

      It’s just that with OTR, all that drama is distilled into a numeric system, pushing the focus away from your actual relationship with the person and onto a bunch of circumstantial derivatives which can be gamed. I understand you don’t take this idea seriously (I don’t either), but I’d wager the online world is wide/strange enough that someone else out there will.

      One of the few good things about involving yourself in the drama is that you can get actual feedback from the person you wish to pursue. With OTR, this feedback is lost. The socially ham-fisted creepers out there now have a convenient and non-judgmental system for knowing exactly who to direct their (usually unwanted) attention towards. This isn’t the end of the world, of course, but for these unhappy individuals it is a step in the opposite direction from learning to communicate with the people they’re attracted to, and proper socialization in general; instead, it’s a step closer to objectification and self-absorbed quasi-obsessional behavior.

      Again, your app is more like the logical extension of social media’s wider repercussions, and I do I mean to demonize it. Facebook already provided all these tools years ago. OTR and other creeper apps just seem to imply that this behavior is normal and acceptable now, and that is slightly disturbing to me.

      In hindsight I fully admit your app is on the lower end of the creep spectrum. Mind you, I only just found out about Girls Around Me. That one has left me shivering with nightmares of a future full of cyborg super-rapists. Horrifying.