Drinking heavily in the presence of your smartphone is one of the best ways to rebel in the 21st century. Nothing says ‘I’m King Boss and I Do What I Want’ like maybe sending a misspelt text to a friend or leaving hilarious voicemails of you sobbing bitterly on your ex’s answerphone.
Now, one New York-based start-up wants to sanitize all this crazy fun with Livr: a mobile-based social network that’s only for drunk people.
Thanks to the help of a mini-breathalyser that plugs in to your smartphone, Livr (it rhymes with ‘river’, yes, like the organ) will only be accessible if users’ blood alcohol content scores above a certain, as-yet-undetermined level.
Once users have made their way past this “biometric bouncer” they’ll get access to a number of features designed especially for those who have had - in the words of founders Kyle Addison and Avery Platz - “a couple of drinks.”
Users can kick things off with a crowd-sourced Truth or Dare game, where strangers post up challenges and reward others with points for completing them, or you can find more like-minded boozers with a map of other users, including info about how many are at a given watering hole and what the average BAV of the group is. There’s even a Drunk Dial feature that puts Livr users in touch with each other at random.
The app’s creators say that this might be useful if users want to “hook up or maybe start something – that’s totally within the realm of possibility”. Also within the realm of possibility are a) you getting laughed at by a group of drunken strangers and b) idiots being lured into alleyways by the promise of friendship (cough cough) only to get mugged. Remember: technology is all about enabling traditional human relationships.
The team behind Livr are also keen to get in on the whole ephemeral-media thing that Snapchat proved was so consistently reliable, and to this end have introduced a “Blackout” button that will “completely erase all evidence of what you’ve done that evening”.
Besides the dubious re-branding of blackouts (a key determinant of alcoholism) as a handy way to press reset on irritating memories, it’s not quite clear exactly how the “super revolutionary” Blackout feature will work – presumably, users will have disposable profiles, otherwise other users could just, you know, remember what you'd done using their brains.
Livr’s founders are positioning themselves as an antidote to the staid, public-persona driven environment of Facebook, and claiming that by embracing the fact that “people get a little wild, people do stupid things” they’re being more honest about human beings in general.
This is true to some degree (people certainly do adopt personas online – just as they do on a drunken night out) but that doesn’t necessarily make it a good basis for a social network. Then again, if you want to find out what dark and savage truths lie at the core of a fellow human being, then watching them drunkenly service a plastic dongle on their smartphone should give you a pretty clear idea.