Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why people use Foursquare and/or "check in" online...

Whose bright idea was it to create a method for folks to note their locations on a mobile device and share them with their friends? I can recall the exact moment I got my first Loopt request years ago. It was the first time I ever heard of an application of its kind and I remember being immediately opposed to the idea. From what I understood, if you were meeting up with friends the app would make it easier for them to find you by locating you on a map. I remember thinking, "What happened to good, old fashioned calling and asking for directions?" At the time I rarely met up with groups of people so that was among the many reasons I saw no need to download the app.

Times have changed. Now Foursquare, Google Latitude, and "check-in" capabilities on social networking sites are the norm. People are now able to share their locations with the simple click of a button. At first I could not understand why they'd want to share such information with the public, but then I thought long and hard. As a result, I have compiled a list of four reasons why people opt to let others know where they are on social networking sites. The reasons are as follows:

I. They have something to promote.
An individual that can potentially gain from others knowing their location may choose to "check-in" to let others know they have arrived. For example, if Rihanna had an in-store appearance to promote her perfume it may be beneficial for her to let her fans know her location. Rihanna would benefit monetarily from revealing her location because sales for her fragrance are likely to increase just because fans were able to get a glimpse of her in person.

II. They want to share (or brag) about the excitement in their life.
If someone is at an expensive restaurant and you happen to spot a post like "Jane Doe just checked in at (insert fancy place here)."then it's safe to assume that gloating was the intent. If they choose to reveal their attendance at a club or party then they more than likely just want others to know that they are in the midst of doing something exciting.

III. They want to get stalked and/or murdered.
Anyone who willingly posts their location for all to see wants to be a victim. Privacy should be valued to some extent and if the person's twitter account is not private or their friends list consists of at least one person that they don't know well, they're asking for trouble. I used Rihanna in the previous example, but the difference between her and the average person is the fact that she has a bodyguard on duty.

IV. They are lame.
If you use an app to "check-in" and actually think others want to know what you're doing and where you are all day, you're idiotic. You don't leave much to be desired when you post everything online and if I can simply read your timeline, there's no need for me to ever call to inquire about how your day was.

So these are the only possible reasons I could fathom. If I missed anything, please feel free to share it in a comment below. Lastly, I  must admit that people's decision to reveal their locations to the masses is not the only thing that bothers me. It really seems like some people are incapable of doing anything without sharing. For example, the obsession with the #np (now playing) hashtag on twitter shows that even an activity as simple as listening to music has been altered. Not only do people have to know where you are, they have to know what you're listening to too?

Social networking has changed how we communicate altogether. When I meet a guy he shouldn't ask me for my twitter username before my telephone number. And yes, this has happened... I'm rambling, please excuse me. Back to the topic at hand, shouldn't we just be living life and doing exciting things to share them with people afterward? Or does this new ability to share things instantly enrich our lives in some way that I'm not seeing? Please note this post isn't meant to offend anyone. Maybe I'm just old school and can't get with the latest technology. What are your thoughts? Is social networking and its many features getting out of control or am I tripping?

Thanks for reading,

Alexandria B.


  1. Why I check in:

    To remember the places I've been. A) It's actually pretty helpful to remember the name of that restaurant I visited last year in Chicago B) There are some cool mashups that visualize the places you've been over time.

    The tips. Foursquare users tend to leave awesome tips that tend to be shorter and more to the point that Yelp reviews, etc.

    Recommendations. The more places I check in, the better foursquare knows the places I like. It can then feed me personalized recommendations for places I should visit. It's especially helpful when i'm traveling to a new city.

  2. Thank you for following my blog!

    I don't use any sites that allow me to check in. I probably wouldn't if I did, I like to be incognito. :)