Thefacebook is a handy tool, but let’s face it – it’s boring. Aside from revealing that Joe Smith really likes Franz Ferdinand, is majoring in biology, and is looking for “random play,” Thefacebook does not have much to offer.
Catch27 is Thefacebook “with a wicked twist,” said E. Jean Carroll, advice columnist for Elle magazine and creator of www.catch27.com.
At Catch27 users trade friends for hotter ones. Instead of a “favorite movies” category, Catch27 offers a “favorite swear word” one. On Thefacebook you can “look” for random play. On Catch27 you get it. It is “the ANTI-Friendster, Thefacebook's evil twin, Myspace without the skank-a-thon,” according to the website.
Here is how it works. You create a trading card, which is basically a profile in which you submit a really hot picture of yourself and post things like “living human beings you really loath,” “number of hearts broken,” and “most hideously humiliating social moment.” You can also create a blog for yourself on the site in order to record all the exciting events that happen to you each day, for the viewing pleasure of everyone else.
Then the fun begins. You acquire friends by sending out invites, trading the friends you have for hotter ones, or, if neither of these works, you can purchase them. The goal is collect 27 friends that all have something in common, like popped collars or nose rings. If you succeed, you can win a free iPod or Sidekick. A Stanford law student recently won a Sidekick for collecting 27 friends who were all wearing hats.
“Catch27 is real,” said Carroll. “You play this game every day of your life, trading your friends for hotter ones.”
Whether or not this is true, Catch27 surely offers a haven for procrastinators. Users can waste hours sifting through people’s “trading cards,” talking to them in chat rooms, and slowly building up their pack in order to win a prize.
Still, the site is rather complicated. While it is true that you can play the entire game without spending a dime, to do so is fairly time consuming. In order to trade friends, you have to involve yourself in often lengthy debates with the person with whom you are trading. The truly slothful might, in the end, prefer the simple elegance of AIM profile stalking.
In addition to being turned off by the complexity of the website, some people might just be too nice or loyal to involve themselves in a game that involves trading your friends for hotter ones.
“[That] never crossed my mind,” said Carroll. “We don’t want those kinds of people anyway, the old grandmother types.”
Carroll, whose column in Elle is the longest running advice column in any American magazine, also used to write for Saturday Night Live. A feisty, youthful sort of woman, she decided to call the website Catch27.
“27 is the magic age. Jimmy Hendrix and Kurt Cobain died when they were 27. 27 is the age when youth ends and you become an adult.”
With the inventions of Friendster, Myspace, and Thefacebook, it became increasingly possible to develop a social life without ever stepping outside your door. With Catch27 you can now do it in style. But do most young people really want to spend their youths locked up in a stuffy room, creeping on internet strangers?
At Berkeley, where many are still reveling in hippy euphoria, the answer is no.
“I think [Catch27] sounds retarded. I don’t think people are necessarily going to use it for anything because it’s pretty boring looking,” said Derick Sohn, an undergraduate at Berkeley.
In Williamsburg, however, we have (arguably) less entertainment than they do in San Francisco. When one gets tired of conversing with colonial people, visiting the smelly sheep, and hanging out at Wawa, the internet becomes an attractive retreat.
“[Catch27 sounds like] a great way to procrastinate and reason to gloat to all your â€˜real life friends’ how you have more internet friends than they do,” said sophomore Mary Evans.
Sophomore Ashley Pattison was slightly more skeptical about Catch27.
“Why does [Catch27] say it's â€˜Myspace without the skank-a-thon?’ It seems like the opposite. And who says skank-a-thon, anyways?”
Will Catch27 be the new rage? Who can say? Though Carroll would not release the number of users currently signed up at Catch 27, she said “It’s a pile.” If you want to become a part of this pile, check out www.catch27.com.