Let me start with an acknowledgement. While the term “douche” in the title maybe a bit off-putting to say the least, this is a case of, “Yes, there is an app for that,” and it has drawn some attention. In addition, and as a point of clarification, the term is being used here under the definition provided from Urban Dictionary. This invaluable source on slanguage defines the word “douche” as meaning: “An obnoxious bastard who mooches off of family and friends and is a complete and total ass to everyone.”
I’d also like to note that I do not speak Russian, which is where the app originates, and hence for further detail about the company responsible when you click the link embedded below you are going to need Google Translate as a helper.
With disclaimers out of the way who is behind this and why is it creating buzz?
The answer to the first part of the question above is that the app is the brainchild of the folks at a Russian online newspaper The-Village.ru. Based on a belief that public humiliation is the best way to generate better behavior, they created the “Parking Douche” mobile app to allow people to vent their frustration at poor parkers as well as alert their fellow local citizens to be on the look-out for the inconsiderate.
Here is how it works:
- Smartphone users take a picture of the those behaving poorly.
- They can then type in a physical description and the license plate number
- All that happens next is they send this information to The Village who posts it as a pop-up ad on their webpage.
But wait. The humiliation is not over. The pop-up is posted only for people within the immediate area of the car. The reason is that it might be recognized and have a word with the offender. Plus, the reader is not able to finish the article until they re-post the car on their Facebook page, i.e., spreading the word to others who might know the driver and have a chat with them.
There is even a video of the app that goes along with this that is worth a view.
Oh BTW. If you think this is not serious business, guess again. The app has won several awards, including the Grand Prix at the Golden Drum Awards in October 2012 for Mobile, Digital Campaigns, Mobile Campaigns and Innovative Campaigns; and the Silver Drum for Digital and New/Innovative.
Several years ago in an attempt to call attention to restaurants in New York City a similar form of humiliation was employed by the local newspapers. Restaurants found to have poor sanitary conditions were awarded rats with chef hats on a sliding scale so that potential patrons knew what might await them. The list was published frequently, and it worked. Restaurants might covet Zagat and other ratings (now Yelp reviews), but rats in chef hats were seen as bad for business.
I point this out anecdotally because like it or not, vulgar or engaging, the extension of the philosophy of exposing bad actors and circulating who they are is likely to be a growth area for apps. Public humiliation as noted does work. As we wait for what’s next on this frontier of social media, all I can advise is when in Russia, be careful how you park. You certainly don’t want to be tagged with a certain label.