A friend recently showed me an iPhone app called Lulu with which women can rate and rank their male Facebook friends. Each guy earns a certain number out of ten, and a variety of adjectival hashtags, which then become associated with his profile. The app has strong privacy settings, and it is mostly impossible for inquiring bachelors to get access without being let in by their female friends.
Lulu is really just a more crass example of how technology makes it easier to reduce important things to pale imitations. The problem is there is nothing pale about the way these imitations are presented. The concrete number Lulu spits out papers over the difficulty of comparing potential mates. Ditto for the “likes” of Facebook and Instagram. Rather than have to explain why we like things, we need only state that we like them and move on. That’s easier, but it’s also ultimately more boring. We like to think of ourselves as sophisticated, with all our gadgets and hashtags. Just as with our supposed self-awareness, our sophistication is a mirage. In reality, it’s hard to escape the conviction that we’re becoming more superficial. Which is itself a mirage. Humans aren’t superficial, however hard we try to make ourselves be.