Before I even received the invite to check out the Proust app this summer, I was hooked. I watched my friend play it on his phone, dragging a list of five items (thematically linked or not) around on his phone to his satisfaction and then submitting it to the then-microscopic community of those with alpha versions arrived. I played it for about four hours straight once I received my invite, going through the entire slate of lists to rank and submitting a few of my own.

And that is basically all you do — you rank lists from best to worst (best on top), you submit your own, you chat about them with them with the people who submitted the lists in the first place (or the people who choose your list to rank). It's that easy.

You sign in via Facebook, so this is mainly a discussion app between friends (though it's possible to connect with strangers, especially if you select one of the chats they've submitted publicly).

After signing on you'll see a group of lists whose items are available for ranking:

Sometimes the fun comes from the juxtaposition that comes from insufferable things. Sometimes the lists are tailored to be a logical ranking of extremely similar things.

I tend to go very specific. When I had the alpha version (whose constituent lists have been selectively ported over to the current version), I made lists of bad Madonna movies (my ranking: Body of Evidence > Who's That Girl > The Next Best Thing > Swept Away > Shanghai Surprise), Judy Blue books (Wifey > Are You There God? It's Me Margaret > Superfudge > Blubber > Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself), and gay hookup apps (Grindr > Scruff > Jack'd > Growlr > Recon), among my several submissions. Also, there was this one, which I wrote soon after the VMAs. It has been ported over and is in the order of my preference:

When someone answers your list, a chat screen comes up to tell you how closely your answers match what that person's ranking. There are various animations to tell you what you have in common. There's one for when you match entirely, one for when what you share in common the first ranking, one for whne you agree on the worst, one for when you agree on the best and worst, one for when your worst is the other person's best (or vice versa), and one for when you have nothing in common with the other person's ranking. And so on. It's just a slick way of giving you an entry point to conversation:

And that is that. Keep playing till you can't rank no more. (You can always rank more.)

Here are a few more lists I wrote (in my order of preference):

And here's one I just found amusing.

I think Proust is a great way of learning more about someone you may know little about or just talking about nothing in the name of doing so. Let's get to ranking.