Teach Me to Love Location-Based Social Networking, Please


Being on the computer for more hours than I am not in a day, I’d like to think…whoa, wait. Is that true? Am I really on the computer more hours than I am not? Holy shit. Wow, I need to assess this… but not right now. I’m not sure if you want to see me having an awkward lecture with myself right now. I notice that when I do such things in public, it makes people uncomfortable.

So, being on the computer an ass ton, I’d like to think that I’m pretty Internet savvy. I tweet the living shit out of everything and turned into one of those assholes who has over 1000 friends on Facebook for no reason. I kind of use LinkedIn, I enjoyed StumbleUpon for about 5 minutes, and I’d like to start a Kickstarter page to fund production on my screenplay about a family of Jewish chimpanzees who start a yoga studio in Minneapolis.

However, there is one social media platform that I just haven’t warmed up to and that is location-based social networking.

What’s the big dealio, yo? Do people really like making announcements about every freakin’ place that they go to? “Lauren Modery- is crouching behind a dumpster at Whataburger” or “Lauren Modery- is taking a dump at her house.”  Do people really need to know what the hell I’m doing every day? I know I certainly don’t care that you just checked into another bar to drink your life away or checked into some hoity toity restaurant for the sole purpose to announce to everyone on your social media profiles that you checked into a hoity toity restaurant.

Now let me start by saying that I’m not knocking location-based social networking. One of the pioneers of said medium is based in Austin and I have mad props for them and the folks who work there. Though I may not understand what you do, I do respect your innovation and ambition.

I guess I’m just like my 84 year-old Grandma who doesn’t understand these “newfangled thingy-ma-jigs” that are taking over the Internet. Shit, I felt like a huuuuge loser during SXSW wandering through lines and crowds of people waiting to get into the hot location-based social networking events. I overheard people talking about special “badges” they could collect during SXSW and my Facebook and Twitter feeds blew up with what everyone is doing. In that case, I understand the purpose of location-based social networking. We’re all at a huge event and it’s easy to keep tabs on each other this way. However, outside of the SXSWs or other major events and festivals, what the heck is the point? I certainly don’t feel comfortable announcing to people on my social media profiles- some who I may or may not know- that I’m getting $2 fish tacos at Quality Seafood. I feel like I’m saying, “Hey, for potentially becoming “mayor” of this fine establishment, I’d like to encourage you to break into my house because I am not there right now. Feelings of grandeur or losing all of my valuables? I think I know which one wins!”

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m getting old and cranky and burnt out on all this social media stuff (says the person who has tweeted over 8,500 times). Is it me? What am I missing? Tell me! I want to know!

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  • Reply EgOiStE March 31, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    I mostly like restaurant ones. I never know where to eat and seeing people's foodie checkins gives me ideas. I've never benefitted from a couponed check-in. May have to try the Google Places free Amy's Ice Cream this week though =P

  • Reply Edgar March 31, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    I check in rather frequently on Facebook for one reason, to see who else is around the area. There have been numerous occasions where I have been able to meet up with other friends during a happy hour, for instance, because I found out they were nearby. Also good to browse check-ins if you are looking for something to do.

    Side benefit: If I've heard of a place but never been, see a friend check in there, I can ask how it was and have an instant, reliable referral/review.

  • Reply Jade Carver March 31, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    I don't understand the appeal either – maybe it's because I have friends on Facebook who I'm only friends with because I know they'd re-request me if I deleted them? xD and I'd never use it for Twitter because it's my blog-only account and I value my anonymity.

    Or maybe it's because I "just don't get those darn thinymajiggums".

  • Reply Lola Lakely March 31, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Don't really use the whole location check in thing much. Edgar makes a good point though- I will use the whole check in thing when I know people in that area will be around. Mostly because I always forget to invite people and this way I can't be blamed for being unintentionally discriminate on which people I invite.

  • Reply B. March 31, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    I agree with you. I've tried to use them, but I just don't do it right. And sometimes, I get nervous that when I check in somewhere, someone might find me that I really don't want to see! Then what do I do?

  • Reply Mademoiselle Hautemess March 31, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    I very occasionally use the location check in on Facebook when I travel for work to announce to my friends that I am out of town or finally back in town.

    But now after reading this, all I will think about is whether or not someone is going to come steal my dog!

  • Reply Kryger March 31, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    There are a few different appeals to this. One of them is to see if anyone else you know is at said event, or in the area. Another is to read tips/comments/recommendations by people/friends who have been there in the past. A third is a lot of them have game mechanics with collecting badges or points etc.

    But most important and what more companies need to take advantage of is the marketing/promotion aspect. Having special coupons to get people to visit you for the first time and other ones for loyal customers.

    Also there is potential for these to be more proactive. Say you sign up saying you want to receive specials. Maybe you check in to a dinner place, and the dessert shop or movie theater around the corner sends you a follow up offer? Or there can be flash sales if there are a lot of people in the area (say the mall is busy but your store is kind of empty).

  • Reply Austin L. Church March 31, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Though I haven't yet used Foursquare (am I allowed to say the name?), I see the value of what @Egoiste and @Edgar are talking about. I will definitely thinking about using it as a resource in the future, though I doubt I will put a lot of time into expanding that resource. We only have so much time. : )

  • Reply Cathy Benavides March 31, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    I'm obsessed with Foursquare- OBSESSED. I was the mayor of McAlister's Deli for over a year and when someone stole it from me, I was super upset….. maybe plotted an unfortunate accident that would keep them from my McAlisters. I like it because…. well….. I'm nosy and self- important. I like to see where my friends are and I like them to see where I am. Also, if I'm every Cathy-napped, I want the police to have an accurate record of all of my whereabouts that day!

  • Reply Jessica March 31, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    I'm on FourSquare but rarely use it. Mostly out of paranoia that I'm advertising my house is empty, so please go rob me now.

  • Reply theTsaritsa March 31, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    I don't understand Foursquare and I hate it when people fill up my twitter timeline with where they are at the moment. I really don't care.

    Also, I heard that burglars love to use Foursquare to find out who's not at home. And someone in the Bay Area was recently stalked through Foursquare and then assaulted when she was going into her home one night. Creepy. But we live in a world of TMI.

  • Reply SpareFoot Austin March 31, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    The only one that holds any value (other than Gowalla, of course – I think those guys can turn into something worth something) is Yelp's checkin feature. It makes a whole lotta sense that Yelp, the local reviews king, will become the location-based social networking… king. Not enough of my friends use the other services, including Facebook, enough to provide any value.

  • Reply Zack Teibloom March 31, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    I tried Gowalla for a couple months and never got the appeal. When tweeting, it took away precious characters and I never got any benefit from it. I had a divorcee stalk me at a concert when I was at a date and say she only came b/c I was there. I deleted my account then. I don't think you're missing much.

    The only way I'd have incentive to use it more is if there were constant discounts at stores for checking in a number of times. Otherwise, I'll stick to texting.

  • Reply One Blonde Girl March 31, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    I don't get it either. I could care less where anyone else in the world is, so long as they're not bothering me.

  • Reply bard April 1, 2011 at 1:40 am

    When it comes to social networking in general, I like to fly waaaaay below the radar. I can see the advantages of using location-based social networking, but I can also see disadvantages (some of which may be intangible). I don't plan on buying into it anytime soon.

  • Reply tee April 1, 2011 at 5:17 am

    I personally love location based social networks. I use Foursquare which I hooked up to my Facebook. It's my way of shouting out cool restaurants or where the hot parties are. Plus I don't see how it's any different from tweeting "grabbing lunch at Dean & Deluca's" or "off to Hudson Terrace with the girls!". It's just a more efficient way of shouting out what you're up to.

    And for those concerned for their safety (although I'm adamant about the fact that you give up much more personal information in other ways) I always update my location on my way out of the place, not in. 😉

    Plus, maybe I'm mistaken, but only your friends can see where you check in. And if you're freaked that one of your friends might rob your house or ambush you in the park well, you have bigger things to worry about. Lol.

  • Reply Tony Russo April 2, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    TheTsarista makes a good point about overkill. All of my accounts are separate. It bothers me when a person's twitter or foursquare or whatever is hooked up to their facebook. A place for everything and everything n its place. I had my foursquare hooked to Facebook for a day and then realized that if anyone was interested in where I was they'd follow me on foursquare. Same with twitter, really.
    I use Foursquare for work (I'm one of the last Internet freaks without a smartphone so GoWalla is out). When more than three people in my coverage area start using it we'll probably have a Where's Waldo kind of interaction with the readers. I just want to stay ahead of the curve there.

  • Reply Brooke Farmer April 2, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    I think of it as the stalker program. "Hey creepy guy that's been lurking on my social network pages here I am for you to come beat an rape me."

    Of course, this is probably because I have had a significant number of encounters with exceptionally creepy people. It has left me jaded. and paranoid. And absolutely with zero interest to announcing in an online forum exactly where and when I am there.

    (On facebook you can easily hide the foursquare updates. I don't think you can on Twitter.)

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