Last week, I downloaded the app Lulu out of curiosity. I deleted it within 24 hours.
This app has been called the “Yelp for men,” allowing women to evaluate men based on a lot of factors: His looks, ambition, personality, and even the “size of his feet.” You connect to Lulu through Facebook, which makes the app highly personalised—every guy you know, or even those you don’t know but are in your Facebook networks, are instantly available to rate. You don’t have to wait for other women to start a thread about how hot Joe Smith is or how Billy Bob is a notorious player.
To rate a guy, you answer a series of questions that produces his “Lulu score” (a rating on a scale of 1 to 10), hashtag descriptions, and a one-sentence summary based on your responses.
Here’s what you see on a guy’s Lulu profile:
LuluGuy’s name and photo appear in the box.When I logged into Lulu, I could see what other women were saying about my friends, coworkers, or the frat stars from college who everybody on campus knew. (Disclosure: I was not in a sorority).
Some of the hashtags are kind of funny or clever. For example, #BurnsCornflakes or #CanBuildFires are cute ways of saying a guy can’t cook or he’s the outdoorsy type.
But after about five minutes with Lulu, I was bored.
To me, Lulu is a watered-down version of JuicyCampus, the college gossip and rumour website that sprung up in 2008 and flamed out of existence a year later. It was blocked by universities, banned from Google’s advertising network, and subpoenaed by the state of New Jersey after students filed complaints with their schools. What started as a website where college students could anonymously share secrets devolved into a public shaming forum.
Lulu has possibly hedged itself against defamation lawsuits by creating a rating system that feels lighthearted and impersonal. Unlike JuicyCampus, it doesn’t allow write-in comments, which curbs a woman’s ability to take truly personal jabs at a guy’s character. Instead, you get to choose from Lulu’s array of pre-written hashtags and question responses.
This is smart on Lulu’s part. But it also creates a rating system that feels too much like a Cosmo quiz, and provides virtually no real information about a man. The fun of the app is fleeting once you see the same hashtags used repeatedly to describe very different guys on your feed.
It’s also hard to believe that most of the ratings are other women’s legitimate, complete opinions. When I looked up one of my friends from college, he had a crazy mixture of hashtags on his Lulu page. Most of them didn’t reflect anything I knew firsthand about his personality. In fact, a lot of hashtags seemed to be added as a joke. For all I know, a guy was laughing along with his female friend as she claimed he #DoesHisOwnLaundry or is a #SexualPanther.
Not only that, but some hashtags used to describe a guy are contradictory. How can a guy be a #TotalF***ingD**khead but #NotAD**k at the same time? These might have been selected by different women, but it’s still not helpful. Neither is the #NoComment hashtag.
LuluAfter you rate a guy, Lulu creates a one-sentence “summary” of your responses. I tested out the rating process on a friend, answering all the questions as honestly as possible. Lulu’s summary of the entire survey was “So polite, he’ll make your grandmother blush.” What? He may be polite, but that’s hardly the only—or even the most important— facet of his personality that could have been gathered from my answers.
The weirdest part of this app, though, is that if the ratings are real, it makes you aware of how many girls are, ahem, “acquainted” with that guy. It’s strange to see a guy you knew from work or class who seemed nice enough, but Lulu says has three ex-girlfriends who hate him and a friend who calls him a #ManSlut. The app provides an overwhelming amount of TMI.
I’m not sure how Lulu could make its ratings system more interesting without accidentally turning into another JuicyCampus. That site was reckless and horrible, but college students were drawn to it because they could reveal secrets about others with no repercussions. Obviously Lulu shouldn’t aim for this kind of gossip sharing, but I also don’t care how many women say a guy #WillSeeRomComs.
This all leads to Lulu’s most basic problem: it’s a tool that publicly assigns value another person. I think it’s just as unfair and ineffective to rate guys based on their appearance, personality, and life decisions as it is to rate women on these factors. As many men have pointed out, a “Lulu for guys” would unleash a flood of angry responses and would likely never see the light of day.
There’s also the issue that this app takes guys’ Facebook info, without their permission, and uses it for or against the guy in their ratings.
Lulu isn’t nearly as mean hearted as JuicyCampus was in 2008, but like JuicyCampus, Lulu lacks a point. I honestly don’t know why I should use this app other than to label a friend as someone who #BurnsCornflakes.
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