Colm O'Regan: There should be an app to spot assholes

Colm O'Regan: There should be an app to spot assholes
Two phones with the official HSE "Covid Tracker" contact tracing app installed on them. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Fair play to us. We do like to do our bit. The million downloads of a Covid contact-tracing app is a statement of solidarity in the fight against the virus. Also, it’s clear the Irish will go mad for free stuff. Apps, out of date Mi-Wadi, anything.

There’s only one thing for it: they need to make masks free and then you’ll see the uptake. We’ll wear two to show people the bargain.

The success of the Covid Tracker App emphasises our need to feel connected. But it got me thinking about a different kind of contact tracing app that also could use The Blue Tooth. 

One that tells you who you’re two metres away from right now. Not too much info. Just the basics to avoid saying the wrong thing. Suppose you have moved into an area and you don’t know who’s who. 

My idea is for an app called Shtory. It would tell you all the relations, who they’re ‘out with’ (in the Cork sense, meaning fallen out), who their parents are. It would supply you with information as to whether they always had their eye on this house and that’s why they’re being a bit funny with you. 

It would do a very quick scan of their social media to see what they’re sharing. It’s always useful to know if someone has “nothing against ‘Them’ at all like, but it’s just... you know… this is a ‘good area’.”

Even for people you know, it can look up all the information online about them and figure out if they’re annoyed at you because you named your child a name they’d ‘reserved’ for themselves. All this is gently nudged to you over The Blue Tooth and a little message is sent saying ‘Don’t. You know what they’re like’ And you can adjust your attitude accordingly.

It could be used to spot Assholes. So you’d know to avoid a row because you can’t win with Assholes. There are only two solutions for Assholes – avoidance or barring order – so it’s best to be forearmed. It would check to see if they’re a Top Fan on a newspaper’s Facebook page purely from the amount of times they post a conspiracy theory about Coronavirus. If you know that you know they’re beyond redemption.

There could be a sat nav version which uses Google Maps to get its location and tells you the answers to the questions that are gnawing at you as you drive past. Who is building that house? Why has there been no work done on the place in a while? Was it a planning thing? Is it NAMA that owns that hotel? Who is that driving in the 2020 reg? Should you salute them? Where did they get the money for that? Did they have an accident or what?

This is especially useful for the elderly as they may not get out as much to get the news. Shtory will tell you – when they are legal again – full details of upcoming weddings.

GossApp will also add a bit of detail on the alerts you obviously have set up already like who’ll get the house.

It’s also going to be needed in the GAA. There’s a big danger that players have been apart for so long, and our solidarity as Irish people have made us all part of the human race, that club players will have gone soft. 

They’ll have forgotten all previous rows and there won’t be anyone hitting shnakey belts at throw-in. Shtory can help keep the bitterness alive.

There are privacy considerations of course – but I think people would accept some sharing of data. In this new spirit of togetherness, we need to know also what keeps us apart.

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