Love in the Time of Algorithms

What’s It Like to Have Your Love Life Rated on Lulu? We Talk To a #SexualPanther to Find Out

"I always thought I was more of a sexual bobcat."
J.T. Makoviecki, a good sport. (Screengrab: Lulu)

(Screengrab: Lulu)

Though we thought we’d reached Peak Lulu back in February, the app, which makes it easier than ever to trash the dudes you’ve dated and get off sc0t-free, is making the rounds again.

Ladies who download the app can connect through Facebook and anonymously rate their former boyfriends and booty calls in the areas of humor, appearance, manners, ambition and commitment. Users can also attach hashtag descriptions, including #Manchild, #SketchyCallLog and the tongue-in-cheek #Big.Feet.

Cosmopolitan describes it as “Sex and the City meets Facebook,” otherwise known as the ninth circle of hell. Guys can’t rate girls yet, but we’re sure a group of brogrammers is working feverishly to create a female version right this minute. That’s why we won’t be rating any guys on Lulu any time soon — gotta keep that virtual karma intact. And how “anonymous” can it really be when it’s linked to your Facebook profile?

So how does it feel to have your romantic pros and cons laid bare for anyone with a smartphone? We spoke to J.T. Makoviecki, a musician who was among the first of our Facebook friends to pop up on Lulu. He didn’t even know he’d been rated before we told him, because the app doesn’t let guys join unless they invite a whopping 25 of their male friends to join, too.

Mr. Makoviecki’s lone reviewer was clearly a jilted former hookup, giving him top marks in everything but commitment. She wrote, “The word ‘girlfriend’ gives him hives, but he’ll have you laughing so hard, you’ll pee your pants.” She also bestowed the hashtags #SexualPanther and #CheaperThanABigMac.

Here’s what he had to say.

BETABEAT: Upon learning that 1. this app exists and 2. you’re one of the first people (on my friends list, at least) to be rated, what is your reaction?

J.T. MAKOVIECKI: I think it’s funny and it gives me the willies. By funny I mean it causes sufficient anxiety to make me uncomfortable enough to laugh.

What about your reactions to the specific hashtags you got — #CheapAsABigMac and #SexualPanther? Do you think this will help or hinder your dating life, or not affect it at all?

You know, I don’t really know what it’ll do. Anyone using that app isn’t someone I’d be interested in, whether it was positive or negative. Sexual panther, I just have to laugh. Cheaper than a Big Mac… It’s cute but it isn’t cute and witty enough to make me mad. Odds are if you met me and I didn’t at least buy ya a beer or something, it’s because you suck.

Do you feel offended or degraded? What do you think of the app in terms of gender relations?

On a deep level it challenges my self-esteem. But maybe it should. It’s about time men felt what it was like to be objectified and be critiqued publicly like we do to women on TV and in media every single day.

If a version of this app comes out with men rating women, will you be participating? Would you ever take someone else’s ratings of a potential mate on an app like this seriously?

I wouldn’t be using it. Maybe it’s because I feel weird about it now because I just saw my own profile. You gotta take into consideration that a lot of malice and resentment comes out when it comes to finding mates. I can imagine a girl version being a nightmare. Especially with ex-boyfriends… Not enough is said about the crazy ex-boyfriend.

Anything else you’d like to add?

We need to be careful with how much we live in this world and in the virtual one. I feel like it is a person’s responsibility to themselves to make sure he or she doesn’t get too comfortable relying upon apps and a charged phone for everything, especially love and friendship.

I always thought I was more of a sexual bobcat, though.

Follow Molly Mulshine on Twitter or via RSS. mmulshine@observer.com