Behold, the newest forum for college gossip: collegesfinest.com. Created by three students from Michigan State University, this website allows students to compare images of guys and girls to find the “finest” at their university. It’s a simple concept: Users click on their college of choice (currently limited to Michigan State and the University of Michigan) to compare students. They then select “Compare Guys” or “Compare Girls,” and two images of students appear, giving the option to choose the “finest.”

This new forum of gossip came to me in a Belgian waffle haze, as I sat down in the Hill Dining Center ready to dig into the Michigan-branded delight I just made. A guy pushed a neon-colored flyer into my face with the words “Colleges’ Finest” flashing at the top. After he left, my roommate and I began bashing the website, saying it was shallow and immature. But when we went up to our room and I logged onto the site, something amazing happened: I couldn’t stop rating the guys and girls at our University!

My comments of “This is so stupid” and “Why would anyone post their picture on this website?” quickly turned into “guy on the left” and “guy on the right” as I was sucked into the concept of Colleges’ Finest. I didn’t want to compare my peers, but this website just made it so darn easy!

Of course, since the site is new, it has its downsides. There are so few pictures of men and women that almost every time, I was shown either the picture of a man holding a swaddled baby or a bro on a Jet Ski. Also, the forum the website has set up for people to post about the finest bars and cafeterias on campus is majorly lacking. Nonetheless, I was still addicted to rating my peers.

But the reality of the website suddenly set in when an image of a girl flashed upon my screen: a friend from one of my classes. Although the website fully told me I was judging my peers, it initially seemed so distant from me, mostly since I didn’t recognize the man holding the baby or the Jet Ski bro. But now, judging the appearance of someone I knew? That was too much.

I could have selected her as the finer choice, possibly putting her in the running for finest girl of the week/month, but I couldn’t do it — I couldn’t judge someone I knew in that way. And as I exited the website, I wondered: If in reality I don’t judge people, then why is it so easy for me to do so in an online forum?

My mind flashed back to the scene in “The Social Network,” when a drunken Mark Zuckerberg creates Facemash, and people across the Harvard campus indulge in comparing their peers by rating who is better looking. The commonalities between Zuckerberg’s Facemash and Colleges’ Finest are endless. It’s easy to click right and left, deciding who is better-looking out of an endless sea of unknown peers. I may be alone, but realizing I’m judging people I know just makes the whole process a lot more shameful. And for me, the fact that the name, school and Greek life affiliation of these people appears after a user selects their image just makes the website that much more offensive. These are real people, and I don’t want to play a part in judging them on that basis.

On its website, Colleges’ Finest advertises itself as a place where users can “view data about college life, for example, the best looking student bodies around America” — but what’s the purpose of selecting the best looking person at our school? I’m not denying that seeing our school rated finest over Michigan State wouldn’t instigate a sense of pride, but in reality, does it really matter?

Furthermore, in order to be ranked the finest, University students have to go on the website and compare images of ourselves to Michigan State students. Without knowing which schools the two images are from, we must select our students as more attractive in order to move up the rankings. While we may deem ourselves as the most physically appealing, the notion of our peers judging others so materialistically is more of an ugly characteristic than an attractive trait of our University student body.

Again, I admit to succumbing to the intoxicating design of the website and the ease with which a user can rate a person with the click of a button. But it’s blatantly obvious this gossip website serves no true purpose, other than making the idea of passing judgments seem acceptable. The Jet Ski bro, the man holding the swaddled baby and all the students on collegesfinest.com are real people. And even though they subject themselves to judgment by posting their pictures on the website, I believe our peers and our establishment deserve more than a rating on looks to be deemed the “finest” and the best.

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