Tuesday, October 25, 2011


So, I've given in to temptation and created a Foursquare account.

For the uninitiated: Foursquare is a social networking website / smartphone app, in which users "check in" at various establishments across town when they go there, and compete to earn "points" and "badges" and "mayorships" or some such thing. I see three uses for it: 1) you can follow your friends around (if they want to be followed), 2) it's sort of a game, and 3) sometimes you're alerted to "special deals" at certain places through Foursquare that otherwise you wouldn't know about. (For example: "Don't forget your free orange juice sample at the Florida Welcome Center!" Or something like that.)

It also annoys the hell out of people that don't do Foursquare. For instance, I've never been big on the whole "Let's post all of my Foursquare check-ins to Twitter!" thing, but I suppose I feel the same way about Foursquare check-ins as I do general "this is what I'm doing right now" tweets. When doing ordinary things, such as going to work or the grocery store, it's not particularly interesting. When on vacation, it is interesting. And I suppose having a Foursquare check-in go straight to Twitter is easier than, and achieves the same result as, going onto Twitter separately and saying "We made it to [destination]". That said, it will be my rule to keep Foursquare and Twitter separate.

Why start Foursquare? Well, why not? Maybe I'll like it. If not, then oh well - nothing is lost. I'm going to have to get used to "checking in", though. As someone who generally likes things to be as efficient as possible, the "checking in" process takes longer than I would like it to. So far, I've only checked in three places in four days: the Bojangles' in Mebane (part of a Saturday evening family drive), the curling rink, and the bar adjacent to the curling rink. (I thought the Bojangles' in Mebane made for a perfectly random debut check in.)

Since then, I've also gone to work, the grocery store, and of course, home...and this is where it gets tricky. I've long felt that publishing to the world that "I'm at work" or "I'm at home" is not only overkill, but...I'm just a little uneasy about that in general. I guess I just like to maintain a healthy level of privacy, and publishing "I'm at work" or "I'm at home" seems like a little much, for me. But I don't think the usual internet sharing rules apply to Foursquare. The general population doesn't care that I'm at Kroger or CVS, but the people on Foursquare might actually care. I mean, that is precisely what Foursquare is for, right? Otherwise, why be on Foursquare in the first place? I guess what I'm saying is, I'm still undecided exactly how much of my real-time location I'm going to be sharing here.

It seems to me that to properly enjoy Foursquare, you have to really get into it, and you have to have a lot of friends who do it, too. I think I have the second part of that down, but the first part...we'll see. This deal may or may not be worth the effort. But I'll try to have some fun with it over the next few weeks, starting with this weekend's trip to the mountains, and see what I get out of it.

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