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February 27, 2014 6:41 AM   Subscribe

BroApp. It's either hideously sociopathic or a thought-provoking parody.
posted by xowie (48 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Someone once said that hipsters don't actually exist. If that's true, then I don't think bros exist either. Thus this app is a fake.
posted by jonmc at 6:45 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


The fundamental flaw of this app is that it assumes the bros who would use it actually have women to text.
posted by shesdeadimalive at 6:50 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


All I will say is that this should be distributed on a model where you can use it free for, say, 14 days. Each day after that, there is an increasing probability that the app starts sending messages scraped from Horse_ebooks.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:55 AM on February 27 [27 favorites]


OK, thinking a bit more deeply about the sociological and cultural implications of this, I also noticed that BroApp is a better onomatopoeia for frog noises than the traditional "ribbit" is.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:58 AM on February 27 [29 favorites]


I have a coworker who shares (vents) constantly to me about how his girlfriend is the needy type, who likes him to do things like text her constantly throughout the day to prove that he's thinking about her, and how when he doesn't do that she refuses to talk to him when they see each other in the evenings. (I've told him that his relationship sounds dysfunctional and that he should DTMFA but he won't listen.)

Anyway, he sent me a link to BroApp a few days ago and was like "finally, the solution to all my problems!!"

He was not joking.
posted by phunniemee at 6:59 AM on February 27 [6 favorites]


Am I a bad person if I think this is sort of fine? The "bro" framing is problematic but the actual idea seems okay to me. It seems like a way of recognizing different levels of communication needs and giving someone an option to fulfill those. Setting this stuff up is still effort and it means you're thinking about your significant other and his/her needs even if you're doing it in one chunk instead of throughout the day.

At some point (possibly on Metafilter?) I read about a guy who often had to work late and whose wife got frustrated because she never knew when he was going to be home. He created a program that checked every weekday at like 5:30 to see whether his work WiFi was still in range. If it was, the phone automatically sent a message saying "Hi sweetheart, I'll be working late tonight." If it wasn't, the phone sent a message saying something like "I'm on the way home!". Is this so much worse than that?

I do get some of the objections and I think the "more chances to hang out with the bros!" adverting is stupid but pre-creating text messages to make your significant other happy seems alright to me. That said, I'm looking forward to seeing other perspectives.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:01 AM on February 27 [5 favorites]


He created a program that checked every weekday at like 5:30 to see whether his work WiFi was still in range. If it was, the phone automatically sent a message saying "Hi sweetheart, I'll be working late tonight." If it wasn't, the phone sent a message saying something like "I'm on the way home!". Is this so much worse than that?

Maybe not, but I think that's pretty bad.
posted by escabeche at 7:04 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


Each day after that, there is an increasing probability that the app starts sending messages scraped from Horse_ebooks.

Who Else Wants To Date A Golf Ball

GIRL – THERE IS A BETTER WAY TO LEARN VENTRILOQUISM

YOU WANT A BOYFRIEND THAT PLAIN AND SIMPLY
posted by mhoye at 7:10 AM on February 27 [14 favorites]


Tell me that wouldn't invigorate a relationship.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:14 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


Maybe not, but I think that's pretty bad.

Interesting -- I think it's really clever in a pretty non-problematic way because it means he's though about his wife's need for communication and come up with a way to make sure her needs are met even though he's an absent-minded/forgetful person. It seems like an elegant solution that could work for both parties.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:15 AM on February 27 [11 favorites]


Is this so much worse than that?

I think it boils down to whether the person would care if the sender of the messages was using an automated text sender. If someone's partner consistently wants to know when he'll be home, then sending messages automatically seems like it accomplishes that goal. If someone wants to know that you're thinking of her enough to text her, several times throughout the day, then BroApp doesn't accomplish that goal, it just masks the fact that you're not thinking of her throughout the day enough to want to text her.

Also, if the app came up with clever crap to text people and it was called CyranoDeBergerApp, I would probably download it for laughs.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:16 AM on February 27 [21 favorites]


Of course, Mr. Pterodactyl nightly sends our roommate a text message saying "Dinner" instead of one of us just knocking on the door to let him know it's time to eat and I'm terrified of talking on the phone so I recognize that we might not be a representative sample of interpersonal communication.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:17 AM on February 27 [5 favorites]


It's like Razzles -- Is it a candy or a gum? Parody or serious, at $2 a pop they can make some decent coin while starting a serious discussion about society today.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:19 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


What fascinates me about this is that if it were just a reminder app, no one would care. For example, if all it did was set an alarm that said, "text your significant other" and left the actual message writing in the hands of the sender. But since it will now write and send a text for you, that crosses a line into allowing someone to represent themselves falsely.

The second linked article goes into the honesty aspect with more depth.
posted by zarq at 7:19 AM on February 27


Mrs. Pterodactyl: "Of course, Mr. Pterodactyl nightly sends our roommate a text message saying "Dinner" instead of one of us just knocking on the door to let him know it's time to eat and I'm terrified of talking on the phone so I recognize that we might not be a representative sample of interpersonal communication."

Yeah, but obviously "Dinner" conveys a very different message than "I miss you and am thinking about you." If the former were automated, no one would probably care. But the latter were, that isn't really honest.
posted by zarq at 7:21 AM on February 27


Mrs. Pterodactyl: "At some point (possibly on Metafilter?) I read about a guy who often had to work late and whose wife got frustrated because she never knew when he was going to be home. He created a program that checked every weekday at like 5:30 to see whether his work WiFi was still in range. If it was, the phone automatically sent a message saying "Hi sweetheart, I'll be working late tonight." If it wasn't, the phone sent a message saying something like "I'm on the way home!". Is this so much worse than that?"

Maybe me; my husband works slightly unpredictable hours and has a long commute so his phone texts me automatically when he arrives at work so I don't worry all day that he had a car accident in the snow, and texts me when he leaves so I know to expect him in about an hour (and plan dinner for the children accordingly). He uses Tasker to do it.

I'm with you, though, I don't totally see what's so terrible about this app unless your relationship is otherwise terrible. It's a little dumb, but not really any dumber than pre-programming anything else (down to asking a relative to send letters you wrote in advance in a staggered fashion to your fiancee while you're overseas back in the 1850s) to give your significant other a smile. If you're in a normal happy relationship it's just a dopey way to give someone a smile. If you're using it to manipulate people, the problem is really the manipulation, not the app that enables it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:25 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


Yeah, but obviously "Dinner" conveys a very different message than "I miss you and am thinking about you." If the former were automated, no one would probably care. But the latter were, that isn't really honest.

Yeah, I do get this. I suppose my problem might be having settled into the mindset of being in a relationship for a long time and so forgetting what it's like early on. I do see the issue with the dishonesty, I'm just at a very different place from this and if Mr. Pterodactyl set up an auto-text thing that would be okay with me at this point, so my apologies if I've derailed this. I also think it would be hilarious if Mr. Pterodactyl set up a thing to text me randomly throughout the day because I would just receive tons of crazy nonsense and it would be enjoyable so, yeah, different stuff going on.

I'm also going to try to convince him to start saying "I miss you and am thinking about you" instead of "dinner" to see if my roommate ever comes downstairs again.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:31 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


Brekekekex!

BrooooooApp! BrooooooApp!
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:32 AM on February 27 [9 favorites]


If you're using it to manipulate people, the problem is really the manipulation, not the app that enables it.

This is a really good point -- I guess how problematic it is just depends on the actual terms of your relationship. If everyone's open and happy and communicating well, cool. If not, this particular relationship tool is not the problem.

Now I will actually go away but yeah, thanks, I think this is an excellent point and articulates what I was trying to say much more helpfully and clearly.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:33 AM on February 27


If someone wants to know that you're thinking of her enough to text her, several times throughout the day,

Then they need therapy.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:34 AM on February 27 [6 favorites]


Obviously what's missing here is an Eliza mashup.

"I miss you and am thinking about you <3."
"AWWW. THAT'S SO SWEET! I MISS YOU TOO SCHMOOPY!"
"Tell me more about SCHMOOPY."
"Uhhh...."
"And how do you feel about Uhhh...."
"YOU ARE IN SUCH TROUBLE WHEN I GET HOME, MISTER"
"Does it make you angry to get home?"
posted by zarq at 7:38 AM on February 27 [26 favorites]


Obviously what's missing here is an Eliza mashup.

I think that later today I am going to give in to the temptation to actually try this even though I know it's probably a very bad idea.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:44 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Mrs. Pterodactyl: " I'm also going to try to convince him to start saying "I miss you and am thinking about you" instead of "dinner" to see if my roommate ever comes downstairs again."

Hah!

Yeah, I do get this. I suppose my problem might be having settled into the mindset of being in a relationship for a long time and so forgetting what it's like early on.

*nod* Same here.
posted by zarq at 7:45 AM on February 27


Wolfdog:if you don't get enough enjoyment out of that, try this.
posted by phunniemee at 7:47 AM on February 27 [7 favorites]


Interesting. I'm curious whether this crowd perceives much of a difference between this and, say, Romantimatic - I haven't tried either but as I understand it romantimatic lets you set reminders at which time you choose from a list of messages you've predefined. Haven't tried it but some people I follow on twitter spoke highly of it.

Do the people who find BroApp hideously sociopathic feel the same way about Romantimatic? If not, can you please elaborate as to why? Is it the framing? Prompting the user to just click send vs fully automated sending?
posted by pahalial at 7:51 AM on February 27


On clicking through some of that wired article I see that it's mentioned and has a pretty good exploration of that. Apologies.
posted by pahalial at 7:53 AM on February 27


I'm going to go with the idea that it's mocking the tech industry/brogrammer mindset, particularly the kind of guy that approaches every problem as a something requiring a technical solution, who refers to women as "females," and complains about how they're illogical and overly-emotional creatures that can be placated with platitudes and baubles. If nothing else, that address list is certainly making fun of the kind of guy who evangelizes crypto, idolizes financial success in part as reflection of sexual desirability, and fetishizes the young and geek-adjacent starlet type.

If I'm wrong, then Doge help us all.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:54 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


What fascinates me about this is that if it were just a reminder app, no one would care. For example, if all it did was set an alarm that said, "text your significant other" and left the actual message writing in the hands of the sender. But since it will now write and send a text for you, that crosses a line into allowing someone to represent themselves falsely.

I think people would care. There's a huge difference between a generic reminder application that could just as easily be used to remember that the recycling needs to go out on Wednesday and software that's specifically designed to build/improve/maintain relationships. It's the intent that matters--is the app promising just to help you remember stuff, or is it making douchy claims that it will "help" you appear to be someone you're obviously not?
posted by RonButNotStupid at 7:55 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


OH MY GOD PLEASE SOMEONE MAKE AN AUTOMATIC HORSE-eBOOKS TEXTING APP!!

PLEEEEEEEEAAASSSSEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Please, please, please, my friends won't mind at all if you do. :)

(Ok they may mind just a bit, but come on, randomly texting each other with horse-ebooks lines is exactly the sort of things my friends would love.)
posted by oddman at 7:57 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Honest question: would this sort of app would be helpful to someone on the autism spectrum? Someone who perhaps needs help with "typical' social cues and expectations.
posted by oddman at 7:59 AM on February 27


I mean, *the calendar* can do this kind of thing, although the regular Google Calendar doesn't have the detailed recurrence options that are usually necessary for when you want to call someone every six hours while they're awake but not during working hours.

A sort of... I guess this would technically be a constraint-based programming app, like Microsoft Project or certain sales management software... where you enter what you know about when someone would like to be contacted, and the app gives you guesses about the information you DIDN'T enter based on notions that are intuitively obvious to people who are not autistic, eg., if you've not been specifically told how many times/day it is acceptable call, you need to guess a number (have a sensible baseline of 2, why not), vary it, and occasionally ask if you're getting the frequency correct (because an autistic user must actually ask if they want the information) until you, hopefully, find a frequency that is sufficient for you both and isn't getting uncomfortably close to limits for you either.

Really, an app to ask you to ask them about things like that would be an excellent first.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:10 AM on February 27


If it had a ween function, the app would be spectacular. Think of it this way. It starts with sending your S.O. a message. Every time it does, you get a treat.

Then it prompts you and asks you to press send. When you do this, you get a treat.

Then it prompts you to finish the sentence and press send. When you do this, you get a treat.

Then it prompts you to write a message and send it. When you do this, you get a treat.

Then it occasionally rewards you when you do this, and occasionally reminds you of special events.

If you slow down your rate below a set threshold, it starts to take over again and coaches you back into being responsive and concerned about your loved ones.

There's something here. It might feel kinda slimy that someone needs to be helped, prompted, and reminded to do something nice for you, but ask anyone who has been married for 5 or 10 years whether they would benefit from a little assistance in the romance department...

But yeah, just outsourcing kindness, and instead not really caring... yeah, that's a path to an insular and self-centered world view.
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:20 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


Here's the thing though.

If my boyfriend texts me, I'm going to respond. Or vice versa.

Responding to an automated message, ok--but then you're right back in the same place where you, a human, need to write a message to your significant other.

Nanuk's idea is a good one.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:22 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


I think the appropriateness comes down to: are you willing to admit what you are doing to the people you're doing it to?
posted by davejay at 8:30 AM on February 27 [4 favorites]


I'm the guy who wrote Romantimatic (and, hey, check out that Metafilter user number), and the difference I see between it and BroApp is one of intent: do you want to participate more actively in the relationship (but are failing in some way, be it workload or focus or -- inventing a word here -- neuro-non-typicality) or do you want to participate less in the relationship (and have the app do the work of engaging for you)?

Perhaps this is self-serving, but I see Romantimatic as an aid to mindfulness, and BroApp is an aid to neglect. (If BroApp is a parody -- which I don't think it is -- it's too on-point.)

But, ultimately, technology is amoral, and its the user who determines how it's used. There are lots (and lots and lots) of people who are offended by even the (again, self-serving here) well-meaning intent of Romantimatic. But there are also some people who have found it useful -- allowing them to engage more in their relationship -- and I'd call that a good thing.
posted by gknauss at 8:41 AM on February 27 [9 favorites]


My take is that this is a piss-takey joke that will be taken entirely seriously by the people whose piss is being taken, and that that's a big part of the joke.

Like fasteners after building a piece of IKEA furniture, now that my comment is done I find I have some extra words left over in the little plastic baggie. In this case, two "takes," one "joke," and one "piss."
posted by Naberius at 8:45 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Though it's obviously shrouded in satire and a generous helping of "can't live with 'em, nyuk nyuk", there's an extant need wherein people do find themselves with partners who have differing attention needs and fulfillment methods.

I know I've been in relationships where my thoughtfulness, gifts, and specific kindnesses have been overlooked because I wasn't writing a note every day with that day's romantic feelings. Or the opposite situation, where a partner feels smothered because there's so much affection but none of it feels focused enough.

It's easy to say DTMFA, but it exposes a gap in relationship psychology between high-trust, consistency types and high-information, reassurance types. That's a huge gulf. When I was in college, if I'd had an app that texted my folks that I had safely arrived, I would have avoided lots of frustration on both sides.

I'm not saying 'bro on, BroApp' but I'm not ready to light the torches just yet.
posted by a halcyon day at 9:15 AM on February 27


The difference between BroApp and Romantimatic seems to me (as someone who hadn't heard from either of them before today) that Romantimatic is designed for the person who wants to be more engaged with their partner and needs some help to make that happen, while BroApp is designed--presuming it's not a joke -- for the person who wants to give the impression that they're more engaged with their partner than they are and is willing to lie. Because a auto-message that says "Thinking about you! Miss you!" is at least one lie ("thinking about you") and possibly two.

Also, we in my family solved the "I never know when you're getting home, nor if you just left late or are actually dead in a ditch" problem by having my husband share his Apple ID password with me, and I use iCloud to find his phone and track his progress home. I tell myself it's not creepy if it's his idea, right?
posted by KathrynT at 9:24 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


KathrynT, you're exactly right about the difference between the two, though the sinister truth is that for some partners it might not matter whether you or BroApp was doing the talking.

On your other point, I think you can use Find My Friends for that. Keeps iCloud passwords secure and allows each person to share or hide their location.
posted by a halcyon day at 9:34 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Then who was text!
posted by bitslayer at 10:39 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


My first impression was that even the "spend time with the Bros" framing of this was hiding something - specifically, that this is a way to leave messages for your SO while you're cheating on her.
posted by naju at 11:23 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


This gave me an idea for something called BraveApp!

The way BraveApp works is this: You start BraveApp, and pick a level of bravery. A meek level of bravery would have BraveApp randomly send innocuous messages from designated areas in your contacts on your phone. An example would be texting your mom "I like socks". A Fearless level of bravery would allow BraveApp to message really extreme messages to any contact on your phone. Did BraveApp just text "I love and Miss You" to your psycho ex? did it just email a racist screed to your boss? did it just post a drug-buy ad with your address and phone number on craigslist? I dunno, how brave are you?

When you stop BraveApp the time and level you had BraveApp active are posted to a global leaderboard. So everybody can see how brave you are!

Then I would write a sister app called TingleApp. All TingleApp does is vibrate your phone when a new score is posted to the BraveApp leaderboard. The idea is you shove your phone down the front of your pants, and get a little tingle when somebody has done something incredibly stupid. The selling point is that mostly negative sensations are aroused when somebody does something really dumb, and TingleApp changes that.

This of course is all just a cover to sell codpiece smartphone holsters.
posted by The Power Nap at 12:20 PM on February 27 [18 favorites]


Metafilter: this of course is all just a cover to sell codpiece smartphone holsters.
posted by a halcyon day at 12:29 PM on February 27 [3 favorites]


I think the issue with this app is the how they market it. I think the marketing of it is playing to the whole bro culture in a somewhat parody way, but the app itself is serious. The app has a lot of off label uses. It still comes down to the user and who he/she is. It can be used for good or evil so to speak.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:39 PM on February 27


Augh, no, Power Nap that is a REALLY slick idea, the BraveApp thing.

I guarantee it would have an audience.
posted by Imperfect at 1:02 PM on February 27


There needs to be an opposite version because honestly, I think boys are more insane about being "text-needy" than girls.
posted by ReeMonster at 6:34 AM on February 28


What if she uses BroApp too!
posted by oceanjesse at 7:23 AM on February 28


That brings up the possibility of some really insidious viral marketing. BroApp could start texting needy messages to your SO ("Why don't you text me more??"), then later it would send links to seemingly unrelated news articles, which just happen to have contain ads for BroApp...

Eventually 95% of all SMS traffic is automated fake love notes, and automated fake responses to same.
posted by mbrubeck at 7:11 PM on February 28


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