What if people rated each other like they would their Uber driver?
Let’s call this app You-star.
Say you make small talk in the lift with a co-worker in the morning; you get out of the lift, then take your phone from your pocket and rate that individual out of 5 stars. Was it a 5 star exchange? A 2 maybe? And how was that rating justified in your mind?
Now imagine your rating floating above your head like a halo, for all to see. Those who know you and those who don’t, all see it. It is an always present star rating of your determined value. Everyone you meet will see it, even before speaking to you. All will know that you are a 4.1 or a (god forbid) 3.4.
And it’s only safe to assume that they will treat you accordingly.
The TV series 'Black Mirror' Season 3, episode 1, “Nosedive” explores this exact concept of giving each other star ratings. It not only shows the dark side of being married to your smartphone, but also not being able to divorce yourself from social media validation, i.e. how others value you in a digital space.
Dove recently conducted a global Beauty and Confidence survey where the results showed that a staggering 68% of women surveyed believe there is a lot of pressure to show the best of themselves on social media and 61% said they like social media as they can control their appearance and the way they look to others.
When following someone on Instagram or Facebook, you have a preconceived perception of who they are and what makes them tick. We think we know people before we KNOW them. So, when you meet digital friends and followers in real life it’s overwhelmingly possible that you’ll show them an extension of the character you play on social media, instead of your true self.
Because, honey, we all know that side is not exactly Instagram perfect.
The existence of this digital value system creates a hierarchy of acceptable human interaction in a digital space that simply cannot naturally exist or translate to normal life. Because it’s mainly a space where needs, wants, dislikes and desires have become manufactured.
So when human interactions become valued based only on a digital value system, interactions are almost predicted. Doomed to fail or excel based on previous data.
You-star does not exist in physical app form yet, but its threat is very real. Soon we might only judge human interaction based on these digitally manufactured ideas which now alter the chemistry of our everyday human interactions.
This means some people have no sense of what’s considered human interaction without filtering it via a digital value system. Before we know it people are not living freely, but rather in a way that satisfies online overlords: all of us who have become tainted by constant digital exchanges rather than real life ones.