Every day on my way to work, I spend the entire train ride deleting inane press releases from my email inbox. Diet pills? Delete. A series of seminars on how to convince your boyfriend to propose? Delete. The launch of a new cake flavored vodka made especially for tampon soakage? .... Archive. But the other week, one press release intrigued me enough that it cut through the noise. It was for an app designed especially for bros who were interested in both placating their girlfriends and chilling with their bros without damaging their brocred.
The app was called BroApp, and, for the low cost of $1.99, it promised to automatically text a bro's girlfriend at an appointed time every day, freeing users up to spend "more time with the bros." The video explains how it works pretty well.
Note the inclusion of "Germaine Greer" and "Hermione Granger" among the ad brotagonist's contacts. Pretty great Easter Egg, dudes.
I am neither a bro, nor do I have or want a girlfriend, but the existence of this app intrigued me. Would an app like this convey to my loved ones that I care? Or would they see right through my programmed attempts to maintain intimacy? I decided to try it out on my friend and coworker Kate Dries.
I told her what I was going to do before I did it, that I was going to tell BroApp that she was my girlfriend and that she was going to get preprogrammed texts from me at a certain time every day. She acquiesced, and after a quick installation and setup of the app on my phone, the great experiment began.
At first, I didn't realize that users could program their own text messages into the app rather than relying on the app's prefab options — which are almost violently bland — and so 24 hours later, Kate received her first text from me and BroApp, which the app selected at random from the list of acceptable options I'd designated. She'd already forgotten about the experiment and was thus understandably disturbed.
I'd like to say that things between me, BroApp, and my BroApp girlfriend Kate got better. But they most certainly did not.
I realized that I'd have to step up my game to appear more thoughtful. So I changed the time that Kate would receive the messages to on or around 12 noon, an easy toggle in the app's settings.
She was still incredibly creeped out, and definitely did not appreciate being called "darl," which is the pet name that BroApp has decided that Bros give their girlfriends.
I realized — too late — that the app allows users craft texts that are more a reflection of the sending bro's individuality, so I added some texts to the list from which the app would draw in the hopes that Kate would understand how much I care ("Have a blessed Lord's day," to be sent on Sundays only, and "3=====D~~~" which I told the app could be sent on any day of the week). But by this point, the app had already suffocated her with its insincerity. She was having none of it.
After today, I will be Bro-breaking up with Kate. As hilarious as it's been to freak her out for the last week, I'm not a monster.
BroApp isn't a terrible idea in theory; the problem with it is that if you're close enough with someone to call them a close friend or romantic partner, they'd see through it from a mile away, unless you and your partner are literally the most boring people in the world. Kate says the app freaked her out because it seemed so impersonal (also, it's weird when your coworker calls you "babe" and "darl." I don't even hug people unless under duress; I wouldn't assign pet names to anyone unless threatened with blackmail). And if a user wants to head the insincerity off at the pass and make the app into something that reflects their own individuality, the amount of effort it takes to program all new texts into the app and then set specific days on which the texts should go out is about the same as just, you know, manually texting someone once a day to let them know you're thinking of them.
I did appreciate BroApp for a few things, though. First, the app only allows users to program in one "girlfriend" at a time, which means that the app is anti-being-a-shithead (yes, yes, I know that there are plenty of happy self-actualized people in fulfilling polyamorous relationships, but there are far more shitheads who cheat on their girlfriends). The app's literature doesn't nudge-nudge-wink-wink shitheadery, either; it just seems like the sort of tool designed for the modern self-identified bro who might forget to do something he knows he should do from time to time. It's another step in the evolution of the meaning of the word "bro," which in recent years has gone from being synonymous with "date rapey college douchebag" to "floppy, happy, kind of boring guy who just wants to have fun and doesn't mean to hurt anyone in the process." Like a human labrador retriever.
So I know I'll never use BroApp to communicate with anyone who I see on a daily or weekly basis or who I think about or talk to a lot in the course of my everyday comings and goings. But you know where something like BroApp would be completely, almost miraculously useful? Communicating with my mother.
My mother, who is great and who I love very much, has an uncanny knack for, from halfway across the country, texting me at the exact times when there's no feasible way I can talk. While I'm running. When I'm about to go into the subway. When I'm having an IRL conversation with a person who is physically with me. During a brunch showing of The Great Muppet Caper. Leaving all maternal communication to an app would be cruel and kind of awful, but programming BroApp to text my mom something every afternoon will prompt her to text me back, which will remind me, every day, to make an effort to talk to her so she doesn't think her oldest child has forgotten all about her or been eaten by rats. Which I'm pretty sure are legitimate concerns that my mother has about me.
Using an app designed to foster deeper romantic connections between boring people to communicate with my mother is not in the spirit of BroApp, but it's better than nothing. Besides, I paid two bucks for the thing. I've got to get some use out of it besides making Kate hate me a little. After she received her final BroApp message, she texted, "Maybe the lesson here is less about broapp and more about how you'd be a shitty boyfriend."
Maybe indeed, darl.