ExRated ‘character reviews’ hampers relationships

By Alex Brown, Editor in Chief

Facebook stalking is no longer the only way to creep on potential romantic interests, thanks to a new service that allows members to rate past partners and inform prospective future dates of their personalities and tendencies.

ExRated.com, according to its website, offers “character reviews” that help singles make informed dating choices, much in the same way restaurant and movie reviews serve as information sources for consumers. Users can anonymously rate individuals from one to five stars while analyzing personality traits, habits and other characteristics. The site claims the threat of a poor review will motivate people to be more courteous and thoughtful in their dating life.

On the surface, it seems the product of our tabloid culture: Gossip is exchanged as jilted exes with vendettas spread malice about their former flames. Even the most salacious details are outed as the reviewer hides behind the veil of anonymity, leveling a character assault for which there is no defense. Other users may even review themselves, writing a glowing assessment from a fake ex to create a favorable first impression. And while ExRated may well prove a cesspool for spite and phoniness, it is doubtful all of its users have such an agenda.

Even to those who are disgusted by the concept of labeling and rating people like products or commodities, the site offers a certain appeal to the curiosity. For those harboring a crush, a scouting report may sound like just the advantage they need to make the right move. But even this initial benefit will be a futile measure in the long run.

Knowing about someone is a lot different from knowing them, and no amount of background information can substitute for personal interaction. For those who do not take this into account, the wealth of information ExRated provides can sabotage a budding relationship. A “cheat sheet” on a date makes the user susceptible to preconceived notions, rather than the clean slate a new relationship deserves.

This information also gives the temptation to act differently, hoping to meet the qualifications supposedly desired by the date. Whether consciously or not, a change in behavior seems an almost inevitable result. People have a natural desire to please and be accepted by others, and if we believe certain traits are most desired, we have a tendency to exaggerate those traits.

While this need to be liked may be motivated by genuine affection, acting on it is not in the best interest of either party. Relationships are much more nuanced than a checklist of personality traits and shared interests, and trying to adapt to meet a perceived desire is only a setup for long-term failure.

Ultimately, no scouting report can replace human interaction. People need to be liked for who they are, not a false representation of themselves.

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.