Darryl McIvor, a recent global business graduate from UVic, will be the first to admit that breaking the ice with an attractive stranger isn’t easy. Finding that his friends and many other forlorn bachelors and bachelorettes had the same problem, McIvor created a website to smooth out the problem.
Working with Frans Kouwenhoven, a UBC software engineering student, McIvor developed the website Peeked Interest, where university students can post candid photos of others in the hopes that they might see, respond and eventually meet in person.
“I see and fall in love with five girls a day, but I would never have a shot at just going up to them at eight in the morning on the bus. How responsive are they going to be?” said McIvor. “Why can’t it be sometime a little later when they might be more responsive?”
Although the idea of non-consensual photography is off-putting for some, McIvor assured that it’s the only part of the affair that users won’t have control over.
“You don’t give out any personal information unless you choose. When someone sees their picture, there are two options, and the buttons are right there. They can ‘Report’ it and we’ll take it down, or curiosity gets the best of them and they click ‘This is Me.’”
If you select the latter, the poster can see your profile picture and then confirm that you are the person they took a photo of. If you get this far, you get to see their profile picture, UBC email address and real name. At that point, you can either never talk to them again and avoid them on campus or contact them and maybe eventually have a complex and meaningful relationship.
“Even if you’re confirmed, you’re still in control of your information. You see me, and you say, ‘Fuck this guy. I’m not going to give him my information.’ I don’t know who you are. Basically, you’re in control,” said McIvor.
The site has already caught the attention of quite a few UBC students, receiving about 650 hits a day, not to mention a fair amount of amateur photography.
“I was a little skeptical about whether people would be willing to take pictures and if they thought this was an intrusive way to meet somebody. But, honestly, from what we’ve found, people are already signing up and posting pictures,” McIvor said.
McIvor and Kouwenhoven are doing their best to make sure things stay positive on the site. Peeked Interest doesn’t have a rating system or open commenting and posts are deleted if they’re deemed inappropriate or in any way defamatory.
“Our ultimate goal is to have people want to be seen on the site. If you see yourself on it and somebody said something positive about you, it makes you feel good. If your friends see it, they’re almost a little jealous because they didn’t get hit on and you did,” said McIvor. “One of the biggest things for us is to try to get as much feedback now at an early stage to make people as comfortable as possible.”
As of now, Peeked Interest is only available for those with UBC email addresses. However, McIvor said they’ll be opening up at UVIC in the next week and SFU in the near future.
“Having that validation of actually going to university makes a big difference. You know it’s a fellow student that’s interested and not, who knows, some guy that just gave a random name and a random email.
“For the foreseeable future we’re just going to stick with universities and expand within universities. It’s about creating small communities, which universities are perfect for because everyone’s trying to meet new people. Especially for people coming for their first and second year, where you don’t know that many people, Peeked Interest could be a good outlet.”
At the end of the day, Peeked Interest is about meeting new people and giving students a chance to interact with individuals who they might be otherwise too shy, busy or afraid to approach. Who knows? You might just find yourself snapping a picture of that cute guy or girl you’ve been seeing around campus, and if the planets align in the right way—and they aren’t too disturbed—maybe you’ll finally get to talk to them.