I’ve ditched Foursquare

Let it never be said that I’m not Fickle… My last post was singing the praises of location based social network Foursquare, but I’ve now gone and un-installed it. Why? For a number of reasons:

1. It was killing the battery on my phone.

Partially because I was using it to check in all over the place, but also I think the Android Foursquare client may have been a bit of a battery hog, there is no mechanism to tell is how often to check for people near you so I assume it does it fairly frequently. I’ve not got firm numbers for how much battery power it was using but before I installed Foursquare my battery was lasting till 10 or 11 PM at least, with Foursquare installed my battery sometimes died around 4PM. It might be pure coincidence, and it might just be because I was using the phone more to check into Foursquare, but I need my phone to actually keep in touch with people and having a dead battery has a tenancy to get in the way of that.

2. It was becoming a bit of a pointless obsession.

I may not have OCD but Foursquare was making act like I did, I had to check in everywhere, I would frantically hunt for the correct location entry for wherever I was, the need to check in became over whelming. I’d get annoyed with myself for forgetting to check into places after I’d left them. All this for what, to maintain a list of places I’d been, for no one to read? To get a bunch of points and badges with no real world value? To be the virtual mayor of some random place? it’s a bit pointless really, I was gaining no real world benefit from my check ins aside from having met up with one friend, who I could have just as easily have texted and asked if they wanted to meet up.

3. I don’t know enough people on Foursquare.

I think I know 4 or 5 people who live in Glasgow and use Foursquare, the rest of the people I know are scattered all over the world. I will not likely be in a position where knowing their exact location is useful to me, unless I  am actually visiting them, in which case I should know where they are.

4. It only works if people actually use it.

Foursquare only works if people actually check in everywhere they go, looking at my contact list it looks like most of my contacts joined the service checked in once and then forgot about it. I suspect that many many people have done that, I’m joining their ranks.

5. It’s a Hefty invasion of privacy.

As I said in order for Foursquare to work you have to check in everywhere you go, I don’t want people to know my every movement though, in fact I’d rather that people didn’t know any of my movements. So there is a conflict between wanting to use the service properly and the service it’s self being at odds with my privacy. Given the choice of using a pointless social network and having my privacy I choose my privacy.

Anyway thats me checking out of Foursquare hopefully indefinitely…

I Actually Used Social Networking to Network in Real Life!

Yesterday I was in London for work and was going to be spending the night twiddling my thumbs in my hotel room so I sent out a message on Twitter to that effect and asked if anyone wanted to meet up for a pint, I got a direct message from a friend whom I see once in a blue moon saying he had to be somewhere later but he was free till 6:30, I agreed and we met up, and had a pretty good if brief catch up.

I then decided to go for a wonder, I’ve been messing around with Foursquare recently trying to establish a rhyme or reason behind it, so far it’s just been a mechanism for accruing imaginary digital badges as I don’t know enough people on Foursquare for it to be useful, in fact I was fooled by foursquare when I reached Glasgow airport into thinking a friend was at the airport only to discover that he had been there a day earlier.

Anyway… I was randomly wondering about London, a city which I don’t know very well, I checked in in a few places and noticed a notification that a friend was nearby so I sent them a text asking if they wanted to meet up and they said yes so we did.

To cut a long/boring story short I managed to meet people in real life because of two different social networks, sure I’ve used Facebook and Twitter to arrange meeting up with people or events, but it’s very rare that I’ve actually used it for such impromptu meetings especially in a city where I don’t know quite so many people.

I’m more surprised at having used Foursquare for this than I am Twitter, I think the issue with 4SQ is that it requires an awful lot more effort, you have to actually check in at each venue, and you have to have a wide enough social circle who use it. This is probably symptomatic of the fact that I only have 18 friends on 4SQ most of them aren’t active and those who are aren’t even in the same country as me let alone the same city. There is also the awkwardness of 4SQ, letting people know exactly where you are leads to them asking if you want to meet up, while I appreciate this is the point of it, it’s also the case that I don’t want everyone I know knowing exactly where I am all the time. Social networking is one of those things you have to balance who you count as a friend and who is merely an acquaintance, there are lots of people I’m friends with on Facebook that  I’ve not seen in years and with good reason, it’s not that I dislike them or don’t count them as friends it’s just that I don’t necessarily want them to be able to track my every movement and meet up with me at the drop of a hat.

I’d also worry that people would just swing by to wherever I was trying to have a quiet drink or coffee, and disrupt my I don’t know…

I’m not a private person, but I don’t like the idea of people knowing my every move, and yet I obsessive compulsively check into 4SQ wherever I am. Part of me thinks it’s pathetic, I’m chasing some artificial game to get the highest points and the most fake badges, and I’m not sure why I’m doing it…