OFF THE BOARD: Beautiful People

Off the Board/Opinion by

Websites where people can enter their personal information, upload a seven year old picture of themselves, and be matched with their soul-mate on a thousand levels of compatibility have caught the eyes of nerds and other socially awkward Internet users everywhere. While most of these sites market themselves to the average, online Joe, beautifulpeople.com attempts to grab the attention of only the most attractive web surfers.

Beautifulpeople.com is an online dating site where, in order to register, applicants must be judged as attractive by other members of the site. That’s right-the site actually restricts who can register. These single-and-lookings who have resorted to online dating sites are refusing a large portion of the population because they’re not hot enough.

Consider the homepage of the website. The first picture shows two men, four women, a snake, and a lion. The take-home message from this is that if you’re beautiful, it’s okay to have sex with a lion. It seems the domain name bestiality.com was already taken when the founders set up their site.

While I don’t disagree with the idea of meeting other people on the Internet, this site has some serious social and economic flaws. First, what is “beautiful?” The site’s owners fail to define the word anywhere. Different people find different things attractive. It’s superficial to judge others solely based on their looks-or, rather, an edited photo of themselves. Personally, I wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with someone who needs to be reassured by other Internet users that they’re attractive. That doesn’t sound like love to me.

Social psychological research has demonstrated that attractive people tend to be more socially accepted than others, leading me to believe that they don’t need to use tools like the Internet to meet other people. My guess is that the beautiful people spend more time looking for love at the bars than on the web. The founders could make much more with online dating sites for every other group of people: the young, the old, Lady Gaga fans, lion/snake fetishists, etc. Even subdivisions of their original site, like ididntpass.beautifulpeople.com could net them extra dough.

It’s also problematic that the site makes judges out of Internet users, which is generally a bad idea. For example, last July an online poll was launched on Justin Bieber’s website in which users voted on which country he should visit next. The leading country? North Korea. These same people are responsible for memes like “Rick Rolling” and Lolcats.

Recently, beautifulpeople.com has set up another weapon in their fight against unattractiveness, an online sperm and egg bank. The bank, for those who want to have beautiful, shirtless children, will provide the means for uglies and beautiful people alike to have beautiful children. This is wrong for many reasons. Sperm banks are typically for those who cannot have children, not for those who would like to have children of a certain genetic background. It all starts to sound a bit like eugenics.

While the idea of using online dating as a means for finding true love might be a good one, beautifulpeople.com has taken this concept too far. The site’s goals are fundamentally flawed, from their repeated attempt to build strong relationships out of pure physical attraction, to their attempted removal of “ugly people” from the world. The site’s founders should re-think and re-model their business idea.