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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