If you think thefacebook.com is the most addictive procrastination tool since Solitaire, but still find yourself longing for yet more inane pettiness, look no further — catch27.com wants you.
Catch27.com, a new social-networking Web site, tries to combine the allure of thefacebook.com with the thrill of being in command of a brutal social hierarchy. Instead of writing a straight-up profile, site members create personal descriptions that function as trading cards. Members then try to improve their social standing by buying the cards of other hip, hot and smart 20-somethings. Your personal value fluctuates based on, as the site explains, “your looks, smarts, number of hot people in your pack … number of page-views you’re getting and the number of people buying and trading you.”
Members of catch27 can further categorize their cards into one of nine categories, choosing between identifying oneself as one of the “bitches,” “brains,” “jocks,” “rebels,” etc. On each card they outline their career aspirations, favorite ringtones, “posh/evil social talents” and, importantly, the number of hearts they’ve broken. It’s judge and be judged. Brilliant, no?
While thefacebook.com serves something of a practical purpose — listing the cell phone numbers for most of Yale, for starters — catch27.com is pure fluff. The creator, former Saturday Night Live writer E. Jean Carroll, tries hard to catch a Web surfer’s attention with over-the-top, snarky prose, but her efforts there read like a melodramatic preteen’s online journal. Under the header “Don’t Read These Instructions,” Carroll writes, “Instructions suck … Anyway, Catch27 is evil. The less you know about it, the better. Trust us.”
Obnoxious and useless, the site still has promise, it could still be one giant work of elaborate social commentary. But instead of mocking those who check off “Whatever I can get” on thefacebook and mean it, catch27 members don’t seem to have gotten the joke. One guy, Jonas, from New York, writes under the title “10 Things I Want in a Catch,” that he wants “Smart. Everyone says they want it, so few people seem to be it. Don’t quote Foucault, just don’t be a f—— idiot, a’ight?” A’ight?
But still, catch27 is oddly facinating. Something useful seems to come of the knowledge that just about equal numbers of guys list Paris Hilton as someone they “REALLY loathe” or someone they’d consider their “Fantasy Make Out.”
So take a gander at the site. If you choose to join, you can at least escape the shame that comes with admitting, as you must on the facebook, that, yes, you live in Stiles, and yes, you do take orgo. Of course, originality has its price. As people notice winning profile combinations, trading cards begin to look alike, and many repeat each other verbatim. The creators of the site couldn’t have been so desperate to make the site look appropriately edgy that they have ringers on it, could they?
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