Although I have no idea as to how the iPhone application Lulu came into being, I imagine that it began as a joke. Can’t you just picture four heart-broken teenage girls, wiping tears off their cheeks, saying how they wish that they had had an app to warn them that their ex-boyfriends were horrible people? Of course, one of these girls was in AP Computer Science and was thrilled to seize this brilliant opportunity. And thus, Lulu was born.
Okay, not really. But the idea behind this fictional saga pertains to Lulu. Lulu is an iPhone application that allows anyone who is registered as a girl on Facebook to anonymously read and write reviews about boys. The reviewer can rate the boy’s looks, sense of humor, level of commitment, etc. She can then select a number of positive and negative hashtags, which supposedly indicate what sort of man the boy being reviewed is.
I am not sure whether to be completely enthralled by this application or utterly repulsed by the fact that grouchy ex-girlfriends would choose to spend their time trashing former boyfriends and- even worse- that some girls would form their opinion of a guy based on ratings from an iPhone application. I decided to test it out for myself.
I filled out a Lulu review of my friend and newspaper counterpart, senior Jake Bittle. I found myself chuckling as I reflected on the abstract idiosyncrasies and positive qualities of his that were highlighted in the hashtags. Was I actually enjoying this service that I had previously ridiculed? Evidently, yes.
After I finished the survey, I proudly clicked on my completed work. However, as I read through my review, I realized that my first impression was correct. Anyone who would avoid Jake based on the fact that I said he “#Can’tBuildIkeaFurniture” and is a “#ManChild” would be missing out on a number of other great traits. Some of those “worst” traits were things that I like about Jake. It is impossible to form an accurate opinion about a guy based on the hashtags that some anonymous girl selected. A huge chunk of the picture would be missing: the actual getting-to-know-you-in-person part.
Thus, it seems to me that the only reason that a girl would use this application is to bash a guy that she is not on good terms with. But teenage girls do that enough over Twitter, on Facebook, via Instagram and (although more seldom) in person. Do we really need another medium to do this?
Natalie Barman / Opinion Edtior
Hello, my name is 7.5. Wait, that’s not my name. I’m Jake Bittle.
Or am I? Could I perhaps be defined better by #InACult, #OwesEveryoneMoney (okay, maybe that one) or even #OwnsCrocs? These are just a few of the labels my female peers—all anonymously, of course—have slapped upon me on the iPhone app Lulu, which allows girls to anonymously rate their male Facebook friends on a scale of 1-10. Girls can review guys—say, me—and review me as a hook-up, crush, friend, ex-boyfriend or current boyfriend. Girls also assign me hashtagged traits, which are normalized to a numerical score out of ten—in my case, the aforementioned 7.5.
Actually, that’s the first interesting thing about Lulu I want to point out—raters don’t actually pick the numbers that the people they rate get. The score emerges, often bizarrely, out of hashtags and sub-ratings. I’ve experimented on female friends’ phones and the score always emerges a little bit off: a 9.2 instead of a 10, or a 4.5 when I checked every negative option. A difference of .8 could up me to an 8.3!
At first, Lulu seemed like an outlet for crazy ex-girlfriends with potential for misunderstandings and hurt feelings. For example, I am not a #VideoGamer, and have not been in three years. What if a potential girlfriend wandered onto my account and shied away because of this hashtag? How is a girl to determine which ratings have been given seriously and which ones are pranks played by my devious female friends? After some thought, I was certain that this Lulu was an injustice to men everywhere.
But if I freak out about what my Lulu rating is, aren’t I admitting that I care about what others think? What does it matter if my fellow newspaper staffer Natalie Barman thinks that I’m only an 8.2? I imagine girls asking, “Do you really think he’s #InACult”? If that makes you laugh, then you’ve already proven my point: that Lulu, because of its vagueness isn’t dangerous, but just dumb. It’s not going to lower anyone’s self esteem, and it’s not a hallmark of the end of modern romance. It’s just a self-contained matrix built for shallow comparison and quick giggles—like a wimpy version of the Facemash website in The Social Network. Unlike Facemash, however, Lulu is not likely to be the forerunner of anything revolutionary, except for a revolution of the eyes.
Jake Bittle / A&E Editor