We live in a time where everyone is visible more than ever before -- now we can even see how far our reach extends with profile views, shares, tweets, and “likes.” In a world where every failure, frustration, and triumph is publicly recognized online, an unexpected yet poignant result is that conversely, many of us feel less “seen,” both in the workplace and at home. According to a 2011 Workforce Mood Tracker Survey, 69 percent of employees would work harder if they were recognized more often in the workplace. Recognition is inspiring and if we had more of it, we’d probably work harder with our families and friends as well.
As more and more people compete for attention and appreciation in the workplace and beyond, there is a silent undercurrent brewing, an epidemic of people not feeling acknowledged or seen for their valuable contributions. This is where our friend and foe, technology, lurks – it can both help us and hurt us. Human desires, in this case, being “seen,” provide tremendous potential for technology companies. And then apps like Peeple appear on the scene. In fact, on Peeple’s website it states their mission is: Revolutionizing the way we’re seen in the world, through our relationships.
If you haven’t heard about it, Peeple was initially announced as the “Yelp for humans” in October 2015, then outrage ensued due to its controversial approach. The idea of rating people or arguably being falsely “seen” set the internet on fire. John Oliver on Last Week Tonight even launched a site to counter Peeple called ScreamIntoTheVoid.com, where users can type all of the non-productive and hateful comments about people and then the comments disappear. Oliver’s jab is well-noted. If your comment is not moving anyone forward, sometimes it may be better to keep it to yourself. In other words, how you superficially see someone may not be that important.
When examining apps like this, the bigger picture question is still: What is the value of being seen versus being truly understood? Do you need more visibility today or something deeper? As Joseph Pine stated in the Experience Economy, “The experience of being understood, versus interpreted, is so compelling you can charge admission.” What apps like Peeple fail to address is our underlying need to be truly understood by one another. We are seeing a whole lot…without truly “seeing.”
Entrepreneurs today who focus on going deeper and creating more understanding in our world will earn, attract, and retain more. More people. More dollars. More likes and more shares.
We all truly crave being seen. And perhaps that can’t be quantified by number of connections, likes, or recommendations. It comes from being authentic and sharing the value you have with another – human to human.