Imagine a world in which other people could rate you as a person on a one- to five-star scale for the world to see. This kind of system sounds clearly ludicrous and horrific. Such a system, however, exists and takes the form of a new app.
“Peeple” provides a platform for users to assign one another to a single number of worth. It aims to allow members of the community to get an accurate idea of others and make judgments based on reviews. “Peeple” is undoubtedly one of the most destructive new apps of the year, and when I found out about the new app, I was appalled. It was clear to me that rating humans anonymously based on a number scale is unjust and harmful in all aspects.
I had never encountered such a degrading human rating system like “Peeple” before and did not imagine that a similar culture of judgment based on numbers could ever exist at Andover.
Immediately after reading about this app, however, I returned to checking my social media accounts to see how many notifications I had received and how many “likes” my friends had gained on their recent posts. I checked to make sure I had not lost any of my 650 Instagram followers and compared the number of “likes” on my and my friends’ Facebook profile pictures.
I realized that just as “Peeple” rates humans on a numerical scale, we at Andover rate each other based on how many “likes” or followers we have on social media. As a result, by using “likes,” comments and friend requests to judge one another, we become dependent upon social media for self worth.
I frequently hear my peers make judgments about someone’s appearance and popularity based on the number of Instagram “likes”. By doing so, we often unintentionally place pressure on ourselves to reach a similar number of “likes”–because only then will we be liked and pretty, too. This culture of determining worth through numerical aspects of social media causes us to misperceive beauty and likeability as achievable only through our numbers online. We then begin to depend heavily upon “likes,” feeling good about ourselves only when we reach that certain number and feeling inadequate when we do not. This source of self consciousness only adds to the inferiority many Andover students already face from being in our intellectually challenging and competitive environment.
This damaging way of measuring self worth–on “Peeple” and through various social networks present at Andover–must be abandoned. Our self worth is not determined by 20 or 300 Facebook profile picture “likes”, and our virtual lives must not be our sole sources of self confidence.
I am, however, aware that it can be difficult to separate ourselves from social media and stop focusing on “likes” and followers. But, I have found that when I am more involved in my real community rather than in my virtual presence, my concerns over the internet begin to dissipate. When I spend more time and energy building real, in-person relationships, I find friends who make me feel accepted and I also gain more confidence in myself. I am able to work more on myself as a person and find peers who support me once I spend more time away from social media sites that compare me to my peers. My self worth is no longer tied to my social networking presence, as I have found people who care about me, and I am engaged more in my real life community.
Social networking sites will not disappear. Today, technology has an almost unavoidable presence and dominates our lives. But, we as a community do have the power to change our attitudes. We must turn our attention away from using social networks to determine self worth, and focus more on building relationships within our community to develop our confidence instead.
As of Monday, October 5th, “Peeple” has vanished from the online world as a response to countless criticisms since its presence in “The Washington Post.” As relieved as I am about the deletion of a damaging app, the issue remains at Andover and we must continue to work towards abandoning judgment of others based on social media numbers. Instead of constantly refreshing your Instagram followers list and comparing your “likes” to others’, take the time to interact with friends and make an effort to build lasting, healthy relationships.