why I quit foursquare

I joined Foursquare a year ago when I got curious about all the “4sq” tweets I was seeing in my Twitter feed. What was this social media function? And oh, there are points so it’s like a contest? Sign me up.

I quickly became “mayor” (automatic +3 points) of places no one else checks into like my house and the kids’ bus stop. Then Nancy’s house and the gas station and our local farmer’s market. When I finally became mayor of Biker Barre, I felt a sense of glee.

I never had more than about 35 “friends” (followers?) many of whom I’d never met but was connected to on Twitter. I didn’t consider myself to be competing with them for the top spot on the leadership board but I was definitely competing with myself. One new coffee shop away from a new level of the fresh brew badge? Let’s go here. I loved being awarded +7 points or even +9 points sometimes for a new place I was checking into. My highest single check in (+12) occurred in Hawaii where I was first of my friends to check in said spot, it was the first of its category I’d frequented, the mayor was in the house and I’d already hit x number of spots that day.

Last week when I was home concussed, I didn’t go anywhere after checking in at Sibley Hospital that Saturday (only +1 because I’d been there before) until Thursday when I made the poor decision to try to return to work (+3) before my body was ready. My point totals for the week were near their lowest ever, my head was throbbing, and I thought: why do I care? And furthermore, why do I feel like I need to tell the world where I am at every single moment?

(In my previous bouts of asking myself these questions, I’d justify my addiction with the thought that if something happened to me and the DC CSI team needed clues as to my whereabouts, they could follow my moves on Foursquare.)

We live such public lives even when we aren’t public figures. With all the focus on privacy the last few weeks, I’ve been less astonished on how it might have been violated and more struck by how much we reveal of ourselves.

So this morning, I checked in at Washington Radiology (+1) where I waited two hours to get my mammogram. But I purposely did not check in for coffee afterwards. I checked in at work (+3) out of force of habit but that was my last official check in. As I sat outside Biker Barre tonight, waiting for the rain to subside before going in, I deleted my Foursquare account.

But not before I received an email telling me I’d just been ousted as mayor of Biker Barre.

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8 thoughts on “why I quit foursquare”

  1. I deleted it and Facebook from my phone a couple months ago because I just didn’t understand the point of it any more. Like you, I was competing with myself – where could I be mayor, when could I score more badges. But for what, for strangers to know even more about my everyday life? To tell the world when I am not home, when I am getting my teeth cleaned, when I am taking my dog to the vet? Not just privacy issues but the whole flaunting my daily routine. While I miss FB on my phone, it was easy to move on from Foursquare… though that first notification that you lost mayorship does sting! šŸ™‚

    1. Yes, yes, yes! All those reason. I mean, someone could seriously (and dangerously) stalk you. I trust the government with the data they are collecting but not what some person I never met is going to do with my routines.

      1. I stopped checking in about a year and a half ago when someone I had never met but followed me on twitter popped in to where I was eating dinner to meet me. That is enough to put the fear of God in you and stop sharing your every move.

  2. I joined b/c a blog/SM friend made the point that she uses it to inform followers of things in her realm (also fashion). Made sense to me. As a fashion blogger, it made sense that folks would be interested in (ha – fooling myself, I mean, really, because I’m oh, so important and interesting) where I go shopping or even go out for a nice evening on the town. I, too, have been competing with myself…all of these comments from folks I know and respect (and met on SM) are making me reconsider.

    Consider this my announcement (again, because you care) that I’m going 4sq-free while #downthashore2013, starting tomorrow. Then we’ll see.

  3. I admit – I never understood Foursquare and had not subscribed. I’ve tried being more engaged on the social media front – but fully believed it was part contributor to my previous relationship’s demise (of course among much larger things!). I have often wondered to what extent social media disconnects us rather than connects us. While sitting at a concert holding his 6-yr old daughter’s hand why is that Dad tweeting and texting rather than focusing on his child or the music? What message do we send to the people who are right in front of us? Or maybe it’s just my old 40-ish mentality working – ’cause I still love receiving that “old-fashioned” card in the mail.

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