Jackie, a 25-year-old Californian who works in film and asked to be referred to by only her first name for professional reasons, walked me through a couple of her spreadsheets over the phone. The first she ever made was a list of crushes, in college. There were about 30 of them: some real-life acquaintances, some celebrities, some former crushes assigned to a “crush graveyard.” They were ranked on a scale from zero to 100 in metrics including “personality,” “snuggability,” “assumed coolness,” and “magnetism,” with personality weighted the heaviest. Almost everyone who’s on the list knows about it, Jackie said, though the celebrity crushes (Paul Thomas Anderson, for one) probably do not.
To Jackie, riffing on “seemingly mundane things” is a good way to have fun in a boring environment—like sitting in front of a computer, which is what plenty of us do all the time. “Google Drive is a big part of my life in general. Spreadsheets are always around,” she explained. And crushes are the perfect thing to sort and quantify, because they are always a little bit of a joke, and always extremely serious.
She emailed me a few screenshots of her other spreadsheets.“Something that I want to flag is that like so many things in our ~modern world~ I do these somewhat in jest and somewhat in earnest,” she wrote. “I don’t use it in a dystopian way to erase qualitative characteristics of people, but I do use it as an organizational tool.” Spreadsheets with personality metrics are helpful for figuring out “what groups of people would vibe,” she argued. She can plan better parties that way. She used to worry about getting “canceled” by her friends because of the scoring system in her sheets, but they told her not to worry about it, because they know they’ll always score highly. On one sheet, made for organizing a birthday outing with a very specific theme, one of the columns was “Likeliness to not understand this [spreadsheet],” and those people were axed from the guest list immediately.
Read: How you’ll get organized
It’s not clear how well any of the personal-CRM companies will do financially, particularly because most of them rely on paid memberships. (And you should be wary of the free ones.) Each of the apps mentioned in this article has fewer than 1,000 Android downloads in the Google Play store right now; in the iOS App Store, UpHabit has the most downloads of its ilk: about 5,000. Google could obviously make a much more popular version of any of these products quite easily, given that it already kind of does with Google Sheets. Personal-CRM software could be a quick-burning fad, or it could be a conversation we keep having until everyone’s using it and we have to stop pretending it’s so strange—I remember being upset that Facebook provided all of my friends with a cheat sheet, making it impossible to know who could actually remember my birthday without a prompt. Before that, it was sad to admit that the rise of cellphones meant I didn’t have phone numbers memorized anymore.
“For most people, there is a cost of authenticity when you mediate with software,” Sun told me. The question, then, is whether the benefits pay it back. The obvious answer is no, but I think I would love to be added to a spreadsheet, or synced into an app. It’s so hard to know whom you’re important to anyway—it could be nice to be listed at least, labeled a priority.