By Tiffany Gwee
Have you ever seen someone that caught your eye on the train on the way back from work and wanted to share his picture with everyone else on the Internet? Well, with this website, you actually can send in his/her photo along with your ‘dirtiest fantasy’ of that stranger on the train you were ogling at.
A few months back, Liang Zhi Chao and Michael Lee decided to set up the website ‘mrtcrush.com’ in order to allow readers to send in photos of people they deem attractive on the MRT trains. They also allowed readers to caption the photos with their ‘dirtiest fantasy’ with the appealing stranger.
A social experiment
When asked through e-mail what exactly inspired them to create the site, the two men replied that that it started with a discussion over wine ‘involving cyber-bullying and how females are most affected, more than guys’. They wanted to initiate a project that was ‘gender equal’.
“This social experiment started out to examine cyber-bullying versus cyber-complimenting and sexual objectification of men versus women – to really test out their responses," they said.
Why specifically people on the MRT?
The main backdrop of the MRT train was for humour – “We thought it would be funny to base the context on our MRT – being the biggest one being bashed online now.”
They hope that by introducing MRT Crush, Singaporeans will be able to see ‘a positive or fun side of commuting’ and also to ‘poke fun at the whole situation of overcrowded trains etc, things (people) bash online’.
The guys behind the website did tell a local newspaper about how the website was created to somehow lighten the negativity on the Internet by introducing the idea of ‘cyber-complimenting’.
While they are not sure as to how the site in particular can lighten the negativity, the website was intended to bring about a ‘different culture’ from the rest of the online negativity. They wanted to ‘put the concept of online anonymity to the test’. Even though anonymity is often associated with negativity online, they ‘believe online users can still behave in a different way even when anonymous’.
‘Dirtiest Fantasy’ Captions – Appropriate or Not?
Readers are allowed to send in their own captions along with the photo they take. Below are two of many examples of how the pictures and caption look like.
The creators of the website said that they came up with this idea because they wanted the site to be ‘no holds barred’ in a way where ‘users can say anything they want to express to their ‘crushees’’ and 'be creative'.
They also wanted to test the responses of online users when both genders have the equal opportunity ‘to be objectified, sexually or otherwise’. This runs in line with their intent of a ‘gender equal’ website since they feel that women are usually the ones being ‘objectified’ and has been happening for ‘thousands of years’.
No personal information given
However, many have criticised the website, accusing it of ‘invading the privacy’ of strangers on the train.
In order to ensure privacy, Mr Lee and Mr Liang also strictly moderate the content of their site, such that ‘no personal information of (the) featured people will be posted’ and there will also be ‘no obvious troll submissions’. They emphasised that they want the site to serve a ‘positive purpose’.
It is also noted that they would take down pictures anytime if ‘someone requests for it to be taken down’.
“The point of those pictures aren’t to shame anyone anyway. I would be proud to be featured there, it’s a good thing someone had a ‘crush’ on you," they said.
Their thoughts are perfectly put on the website itself.
So far, no one had asked for his or her photo to be taken down yet.
Positive response from girls
Surprisingly, males seem to be more responsive to the site compared to females. However, they also ‘get very positive responses from girls’.
“They love that guys are objectified for once, they find it hilarious!”
Dealing with criticism
When asked about how they deal with criticism towards their idea, they simply said, "We crack open a bottle on wine and just laugh over it. What can we do about it? We won't be able to please anyone."
Visit www.mrtcrush.com to read more posts/ to send a photo of your eye-candy on the train