For girls’ eyes only, Lulu allows women (and only women) to anonymously rate and review past or current boyfriends, male relatives, friends and hook-ups. Available on the desktop and smartphone, Lulu is both a high-level procrastination tool and major online controversy.
In order to access the website and mobile app, one must log in with their Facebook account. Only women are allowed to log in successfully, and any men that try will be greeted with the message “Dude … you’re a dude.” How Lulu will react to the new Facebook gender settings is still up in the air.
Once logged in, users will be shown a mosaic of male profiles and reviews, accompanied with their Facebook profile pictures and ratings. At first, only Facebook friends will appear, but users can also search for more reviews by name and college. Individual review pages for men will show more detailed information, including the basic age, relationship status and college, along with user driven ratings on appearance, humor, manners, ambition and level of commitment. Lulu’s style of review is similar to other popular user driven review sites such as Yelp.
The uniqueness of Lulu reviews lies in the use of hashtags to list and label the different qualities of each individual guy. The common #EpicSmile and #SixPack are among the esoteric and confusing #ThatGuy or #PlaysDidgeridoo. While cute and interesting to look through, the language of Lulu hashtags is merely a list of contrived slang and attempted references to pop culture.
Unlike the set list of hashtags, creating reviews is hit or miss, as users are asked to rate a man’s various characteristics through an inconsistent questionnaire. For example, rating a man’s sense of humor is not done through a simple 1-5 scale, but from a scale of “When they shoot Bambi’s mother” to “the blooper reel in Bridesmaids.” The wording of the questions oftentimes change. Sometimes, the wording of the questions will result in a giggle and smile, but other times it’ll confuse users who simply don’t understand the references or slang.
An article by Forbes refers to the rating and reviewing system of Lulu as “digital slander,” while The New York Times calls it “empowering” for women who already face online harassment significantly more than men.
What these two publications assume is that Lulu would most likely be used as a weapon of revenge used by spurned women against past boyfriends or hook-ups. In the most negative light, Lulu is a digital Burn Book la Mean Girls that targets men. This isn’t exactly the case, as it is also likely that women would review current significant others, friends or relatives, choosing to add positive reviews rather than negative ones.
According to New York Magazine, the average rating for men was 7.5 out of 10 points.
Just like RateMyProfessors.com, the reviews found on Lulu can be both hurtful and praising, and the accuracy of the reviews and ratings should always be questioned.
Amongst the controversy, Lulu adds to the growth of social media’s role in dating and relationships. Dating apps like Tinder or HotOrNot make it easier to find a hook-up or possible significant other, and Facebook and Twitter allow people a short glimpse into their personality and interests. Lulu adds the third-party supplement to the Internet profile, like customer reviews for restaurants or movies.
Should people take the reviews seriously? Absolutely not.
In the end, Lulu is simply for fun. It is the modern, digitized little black book that utilizes the growing trend of crowd-sourced data. It’s a guilty pleasure on top of being a tool for procrastination, and it looks like it’s here to stay.