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?

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