The concept behind location-based services like Foursquare and Gowalla is fantastic. Check in using GPS, see who you know (or who you don’t) is around and maybe even earn a free drink or discounted meal.
It’s like playing a massive game of bingo and it’s fun. For a while. (Now that Twitter and Facebook are both rolling out similar services, it’s going to go downhill fast)
But after about a month of using Foursquare last summer while traveling between four different cities, I cut my use way down. Why? Because it’s boring. Because there’s nothing really in it for me to whip out my iPhone every time I walk into a new place. And because no matter how hard people try, most of them aren’t that interesting, so simply sharing space doesn’t make me want to meet them.
So, in every day life, these type of services don’t make a damn bit of sense to me. The badges got boring, businesses didn’t offer anything compelling enough to check in and the minute-by-minute annoyance of people publishing their foursquare checkins to Twitter (my god, you know the app has PUSH NOTIFICATIONS, right?) prompted me to unfollow almost everyone who regularly did it. That being said, there are definitely a few reasons to stay onboard.
You’re popular, you know the right places to hang out and you want everyone to know it. So, go ahead and check in at that popular restaurant or hip club. Really. We care.
This person checked in at home, at work, at the gas station and at the coffee shop. You want everyone to know you’re busy. Buddy, we get it. You’re awesome.
No matter how many times you try, no one follows you to your regular hang out. Checking in every day from the same place is your way of asking them to.
You want to look and be cool, so checking in at the local co-work space or hipster coffee bar is your way of showing the world that you associate with cool things.
For all the people at SXSW right now, I can see how useful it would be to check in while sitting right next to someone who’s doing the same. Who knows, maybe you’ll finally be able to meet a real-life, social-media rock star. Or at least you can say you did.
You’re creepy. Let it go, man.