I Don’t Care Where. You. Are. Right. Now.

I Don’t Care Where. You. Are. Right. Now.

all about meHey, you! Yeah, you standing in line at Starbucks using your phone to check-in while waiting to get your daily latte. We need to have a word.

We’ve been connected for awhile on Twitter and Facebook. I like you, really I do. I enjoy getting to know you better through our connection. I appreciate the information you’ve shared about your interests and news in your area of expertise. The great thing about using technology and social networking platforms is that we can easily connect, no matter where we happen to be. See, that’s the thing…I don’t need to know where you at this very moment. I don’t need to know that you’re at the market, at the gas station, at work or on the train. In fact, and don’t take this personally, unless you are someplace really cool or unusual, I probably don’t want to know.

foursquare check-in tweets

If I wanted to know these things, we’d be connected on Foursquare so I could follow along as you cruise through town going to meetings and running errands. If I’ve made the decision to not connect there, why then am I seeing your check-ins in my Twitter stream – and my Facebook stream – and often both? And, to make matters worse, since you’re not sure which service is going to win the geolocation war (see here and here), you’re using them all. For each stop in your day, you check-in with Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite, Loopt, Whrrl and others. And it isn’t just you, there are more and more people doing this. I’m drowning in a sea of “I’m at Panera Bread (Free wifi FTW).”  I can hardly wait for the Facebook geolocation feature to roll out soon (cue: sarcasm).

right left hand check-ins tweet

The results of my absolutely unscientific poll on Twitter and Facebook were unanimous. I asked people to raise their right hand if they liked seeing others’ check-ins in their social streams; left hand if they didn’t. Without exception, all I got were left hands. Just a sampling of the replies I received:

check-ins left hands replies

carlainsf check-ins tweet

If you want to keep pushing out all of your check-ins to my social stream, that is certainly your prerogative. Just please understand that I, along with a growing number of like-minded folks, may end up unfollowing and unfriending you, or hiding your updates in our stream. It is disruptive because it makes it more difficult to see the content I really want to see and comes across as being all about you, without regard for those on the other end of your check-ins. Still, it is your choice. If  it is worth it to you to tick off a bunch of your online friends to publicly proclaim that you just earned a GymRat badge on Foursquare and you’re comfortable with the privacy issues of announcing where you are at every given moment, then more power to you. If it works for you, your friends and audience to publish your check-ins to multiple sites, I hope you won’t take it personally if I’m not around to keep tabs on where you’re having lunch today.

And, finally, to those of who you insist on checking-in while you’re driving (and I mean driving, not being a passenger) – stop it, stop it, stop it. No badge, no mayorship, no virtual prize, no free sandwich is worth it. I don’t care that you’re at a red light or a toll booth. Stop it. Seriously, stop it! Please, stop it!

With all of these cool online tools, it is time we think about our friends first, ourselves second, lest we find ourselves with fewer friends caring what we have to say. Let’s remember to ask ourselves how each new application adds value to our network, in addition to simplifying our lives. Just because it’s hip and fun doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

Now, put down your phone and enjoy your latte. Carry on and enjoy your day…wherever it is that you’re headed.

Your turn. Right hand or your left hand?

.

21 Comments

  1. myriam March 31, 2010 at 3:10 pm - Reply

    I just unlocked the badge “mayor of the comments @almostsavy” 🙂

    Agree with you. Using sometimes theses services without merging tem wit my twitter account. Or exceptionally.

    • Irene Koehler March 31, 2010 at 3:14 pm - Reply

      Ah, Myriam, you just made me laugh! I’m sorry to say there is no badge that comes with this Mayorship.

  2. iGoByDoc March 31, 2010 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    Hi Irene, we are buds right? So I hope you do not unfollow me anytime soon. =)

    I just want to pose a question / comment to you in defense to those who do check in… like myself.

    Previously tweeps were tweeting posts like “Just got to the xyz hotel, this place is nice” or “I just at at xyz restaurant and it sucked” So with out these “tools” people were possibly over sharing anyway… you know before foursquare and gowalla. =)

    Now I am seeing less of these on twitter.com and more action on the service as some people are not linking check-ins to twitter or Facebook… and that is semi refreshing. =)

    Much like anything, whatever you do on these sites is how you do it, and granted, some may find the “just got to McDonalds, or just became mayor of McDonalds” annoying, but other than the mayor and badge stuff, are the tweets not the same as what they were doing before just on twitter anyway?

    I like to see constructive check-ins where someone adds a comment to the check in post. Some are funny, some are useful. For me, if I “choose” to send the post to twitter it would have been the same thing I would have tweeted anyway, but now just has a link to where I am is inserted.

    Sure the privacy issues come into play (I would never check in from home or a relatives house, or a firneds for that matter), but the sheer social good/fun that can come, especially for the place/business visited by people, is amazing.

    If its the eventual deals that a business gives visitors who check in, or become mayor of, or the ability for a business to interact with those who just checked in by listening to twitter and responding more rapidly is awesome.

    In my eyes, it is a don’t blame the service, blame the messenger…. and in this case people are doing what they were doing anyway, but now have the “option” to share with everyone.

    I agree, some people can over share, and the is a badge for that! LOL

    Still buds?

    Doc

    • Irene Koehler March 31, 2010 at 5:53 pm - Reply

      First of all, we are absolutely buds. No worries on that front. 🙂

      You raise very valid points. I am absolutely no blaming the tools. My beef is with how people use them. Simply announcing, “I’m here now” and “Now, I’m somewhere else” adds no value for me, the person on the other end of the check-in, unless there is something special about it. If you’re on a trip somewhere really interesting, it might give me an idea of what you’re up to. If you, as you suggest, have something interesting to say about where you are, then it makes more sense.

      Like all tools, as long as people use them wisely and with others in mind, it can be a useful party of the online ecosystem. But as long as it’s noise for the sake of noise, I’m out. You, though, are a-ok in my book!

    • KidsRecipes October 28, 2010 at 10:11 am - Reply

      @iGoByDoc I am a big city Women. I could seriosly care less about small town check outs that are coming across my stream. Mothers checking into their so called “offices” that clearly map their home. Hello! Geolocate would be great for my lost pet. But on twitter your making a complete naracistic tweep out of yourself. I can appreciate you find it fun, but seriously people get a life.

  3. Mary Beth Deans April 1, 2010 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    And my very favorite: the people who have their Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn feeds set up so you see the same dang message 2-3 times. Because even though they set up the feeds, they aren’t clear how they work and thus post the same message on Tw, FB + LI.

    • Irene Koehler April 1, 2010 at 10:09 pm - Reply

      Oh, that’s one I think many people can relate to. Before signing on for all these new services, it would be best to stop and take a moment to understand how they work and how they will impact your friends’ experiences.

  4. Ari Herzog April 3, 2010 at 6:58 am - Reply

    Kudos, Irene! Would you believe there is a website that republishes lists of people and the locations they are at, so other people can know they’re not home — so their home (if they also publish those details elsewhere online) could potentially be robbed?
    .-= Ari Herzog´s last blog ..Why Social Media is Not For Asses and Bubble People =-.

    • Irene Koehler April 5, 2010 at 12:44 pm - Reply

      Hey, Ari. The website you reference is but one of many reasons I don’t publish every detail of my whereabouts online. Very people really need – or want – to know where I am at any given moment.

  5. Ben Tremblay April 8, 2010 at 10:02 am - Reply

    I went back to university to study cog- and social-psych for a specific reason: how folk form opinions. Not just at the epistemological / philosophical level, but at the personal level. I hit a gold mine … group membership, image maintenance, all of that … real juicy stuff.

    When I see someone tweet “Grabbing a sandwich at Barney’s” or something … it stops my mind. Maybe I could come up with a causal chain for that communicative gesture, maybe. But truth? I really don’t want to go there!

    @bentrem

    p.s. Found you in O’Reilly Webcast email notification for “LinkedIn: Beyond the Basics”. Paradigmatic good design, it was … very good of them to have included your coordinates.

  6. Zac April 10, 2010 at 8:13 am - Reply

    I translate your article into Chinese?http://etsum.com/blog/2010/04/09/i-dont-care-where-you-are-right-now/

    It’s OK? If not, I’ll delete it…

  7. Gregory Feathers May 10, 2010 at 7:00 am - Reply

    Let me start off by saying Foursquare/Gowalla/Twitter/Facebook are for SHARING. Now that is out of the way, before foursquare or gowalla people were doing sharing the same information on Twitter and Facebook but without the shortened URL. “I just had the most awesome coffee at blaagh blaagh. You should come check it out too.”

    The reason I am very adamant about using these services is because they generate leads, conversation and business. Until such time that these services fail to provide biz I will continue to use them.

    Here is the golden rule: If you don’t like the updates, just ignore them just like any other tweet that doesn’t peak your interests. There is no reason to protest the usage of these services. I don’t see as much hate for diet and “making money online” tweets. Maybe people should go after the diet pill spammers instead of wasting time against foursquare and gowalla.

    My two cents.

    • Irene Koehler May 10, 2010 at 12:07 pm - Reply

      I appreciate your input. I understand the business model and opportunities LBS (location based services) present and will even check-in once in while on Foursquare myself. I rarely, though, publish those updates to my other networks.

      I agree with you about having options. We can choose to ignore the updates that don’t interest us. When someone posts too much content which doesn’t interest me, they are likely not a good connection for me. This absolutely includes spammers of all types. I don’t think (most) LBS users are anywhere as problematic as they are. I wrote about the reasons I unfollow people, including spammers, here: http://j.mp/ilis6

      Many thanks for sharing your perspective. It definitely adds to the conversation!

      • Gregory Feathers May 10, 2010 at 12:13 pm - Reply

        I have a great example of why to publish to LBS updates to Twitter and Facebook. Like many people my LinkedIn account pulls updates from Twitter. I have several connections on LinkedIn that do not use Twitter and occasionally they will start conversations based upon my tweets. Three weeks ago that exact thing happened based upon a foursquare update and I gained a new client based upon it. I don’t believe in posting all check-ins but if it is somewhere that is out of the ordinary then definitely post that update to Twitter and Facebook.

  8. Ike May 10, 2010 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    Irene, I agree about the noise. These networks won’t start showing returns on time invested until the information in them is relevant.

    That I am having a life-changing ham sandwich NOW doesn’t matter to you, because you aren’t where I am.

    Two years from now, when fate puts you on the corner where you CAN act on it, that’s a different story.

    http://ike4.me/mbi4

  9. Pearce Smithwick May 10, 2010 at 12:42 pm - Reply

    Good exchanges all around. I agree with Greg regarding the sharing aspect of these services, but the following excerpt from Irene’s original post is what nails the argument for me:

    “If I wanted to know these things, we’d be connected on Foursquare so I could follow along as you cruise through town going to meetings and running errands. If I’ve made the decision to not connect there, why then am I seeing your check-ins in my Twitter stream – and my Facebook stream – and often both? And, to make matters worse, since you’re not sure which service is going to win the geolocation war (see here and here), you’re using them all. For each stop in your day, you check-in with Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite, Loopt, Whrrl and others. And it isn’t just you, there are more and more people doing this. I’m drowning in a sea of “I’m at Panera Bread (Free wifi FTW).” I can hardly wait for the Facebook geolocation feature to roll out soon (cue: sarcasm).”

    Essentially, what bothers me about social media apps, though the tide is growing in support of it, is the redundant inclusion of features support by other apps in an effort to become the market leader. For example, as Irene alluded to, if I wanted to know where you were in your day, I would open a 4sq account and follow you explicitly. I am on twitter for the information exchange/sharing – not for geo updates. Since I should probably don a flame suit right about now, let me just close by saying when those geo updates do come across my stream, I do simply ignore them.

  10. Suzanna Stinnett July 20, 2010 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    Irene, thanks for getting the spotlight onto this one. While I am very good at what I call “skip-n-scan,” and urge my clients to develop excellent mental filters, 4Sq updates get under my skin. (Personally, the last thing I want is to be geolocated day and night.) I think it becomes a problem because it is so automated that people stop noticing how their actions affect others. And there our relationships degrade. I know there are reasons to use 4Sq and other tools. They just aren’t strong enough reasons for me – yet.
    Thanks for the conversation.
    Suzanna

  11. Leslie January 28, 2011 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    I agree, unless they are rafting on the Suez Canal right now I don’t care where they are.

    • Irene Koehler January 28, 2011 at 2:51 pm - Reply

      Now that’s something I’d definitely like to know, too!

  12. Esperanza July 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    I don’t use Twitter, Foursquare or Gowalla (gasp) and I do check in, on Facebook. I often check in at restaurants for the free appetizer or drink they give me when I do. I’m not bothered by the check-ins of others, either, in fact, I’ve learned about some great new restaurants near me that I would not have otherwise known about.

    I do check in sometimes when I’m off to Zumba or the like, because it lets my like-minded friends know where the various studios and gyms are in town that offer it, and it keeps our little network cozy.

    I’m perfectly OK with someone choosing to remove me or stop following my links based on who I am and/or what I do. For me, Facebook is a social network to enjoy with friends and family, and it’s a way of being…well…social 😉

    Does Facebook have an option to hide checkins? If not, perhaps they should. Same as the option (which I frequently use) to hide various game updates or requests to use various applications.

    I figure if people don’t want to see my social activities on my social networking tool, they can’t opt out. It’s all really OK with me.

    “I gotta be me” and all that…

  13. Joel Bancroft-Connors July 9, 2012 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    Great Article, Irene.

    I just deleted a big long post. Instead I want to speak to those who are arguing for “multi-casting” being good. From what I’ve seen, a good chunk of the arguements are for what you get out of multi-casting your information (e.g.”I got a client.”).

    We should all rememeber one of Peter Drucker’s foundational principles. Summed up nicely by management consultant, Mark Horstman it is “Communication is what the listener does.”

    When using social media ask yourself if your audience is getting more value than you are. If the answer is no, then you’re being selfish.

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