An app has been pulled from the App Store in China because the main function of the app is to put you in touch with thugs who will beat people up for you for money, which – and I mean I know it's bad and all, and the law dictates that we should not have people beaten up for money – but which really worries me because immediately I can think of a good ten people I would use that app on. Maybe 12. Wait: 50.
As Want China Times reports, 滴滴打人, or Didi Da Ren (I am throwing myself upon the mercy of the copy and paste function, here) (like: that could say anything) (that could say "I am a dicklord" and I absolutely would not know) or "Didi Hit People", started out as a funny joke idea on a satirical online talk show, but soon turned into an actual app where you could hire maniacs to go and hit people for you. The app also dragged a few elements of dark web into the fore: screenshots showed "one-night stand" services, which is just an elegant way of saying sex work, and drug deals were surely not far behind.
Before it was pulled, the app let you post an ad saying you wanted someone beating up – and maybe specifying how hard you wanted them beating up, whether to go to the shins or balls, that sort of thing – and then you'd be sent a message with the phone number of your friendly neighbourhood thug. You tell them where and when they might see the target, as well as providing a photo, and then within 48 hours whoever it is will be in hospital. Your common or garden beating would run you between 200 – 500 RMB, (£21 – £54) with payment typically made after the beating has been delivered.
The thugs, according to the app's description, were mainly retired soldiers looking for some extra scratch and a reason to take their frustrations out on someone; actual gangsters and criminals, and, curiously, PE teachers. What would they do, smack you with a rolled up towel until you ended up in hospital? Blow a whistle so hard you fell unconscious? Wear two clashing brands of sportswear with such an aggressive lack of taste that your heart stops? Collapse your skull with a dodgeball? Of all the questions this accessible beat-'em-up app raises, both moral and ethical, this seems the most pertinent. Will they make you climb up a rope until your limbs expire? Make you do laps of the sports track on a frigid December morning until your legs buckle and fold? How hard are PE teachers in China?
Anyway, 40,000 downloads later the app has been pulled from the Qihoo 360 web store, with the company who developed it, Changsha Zhang Kong Information Technology Limited, insisting they never intended for it to be used for illegal activities. Pro-tip for next time: maybe don't call the app "Didi Hit People", if you don't want people using it to hit people. Really shouldn't have to tell you that, Changsha.
Thing is, getting people decked in exchange for money is not a new concept – if you wanted to get someone decked right now, there is a dude sat in the corner of Wetherspoons who has been nursing the same pint since 7AM who will absolutely do that for you. He has a pool ball in a sock in his pocket already, waiting. His name is "Hard Terry" and he used to teach PE. There was an incident. He doesn't want to talk about it. Point being: beating people up isn't hard. But then ordering pizza was never historically hard, either, until the Dominos app made it so easy I put on a stone in a month. Ordering a taxi wasn't hard until Uber made it so easy I get offended if I have to get public transport anywhere. This is the giddy thrill of touch-button culture: say I am drunk, bored and on a bus – I would totally think about putting a hit out on someone. Why not! It's only £21! What else am I going to get for £21 – a new T-shirt? Fuck that, I want blood.
Ethically, I'm in a tailspin, here. On one hand: I know it is morally bad to send a hitman to go and beat people up. On the other: I can think of at least six of my best mates who I just figure it would be really funny to have beaten up by a for-hire Chinese PE teacher. Am I the bad person, or has the future made me this way? Is this the real impact the App Store has on all of our lives? The Tinderfication of having the shit beaten out of someone. A final slippery step off the wet ladder of human kindness. Thanks, China. Thanks for putting a tempting morsel of affordable violence into my world.
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