Stop (Over) Sharing Your (Stupid) Foursquare Check-ins

Twitter is the source for a large majority of my blogging inspiration. That’s why I want to draw your attention to a Tweet from one of the most brilliant and handsome people communicating 140 characters at a time:

I told you he was good.

Don’t get me wrong – I like Foursquare. Hell, I even use Foursquare (to excess). I simply don’t understand why people feel the need to share their check-ins across multiple social media outlets. I’m so fired up about this that I feel the need to explain how you may be using Foursquare incorrectly…and how to change your evil ways.

We all know them when we see them, but I’ve taken the liberty of listing the virtual world’s three most over-shared, annoying and pointless Foursquare check-ins:

  1. Your office – yeah, I know where I can find you during normal work hours – it’s printed on your business card. Unless your employer uses Foursquare in lieu of a time clock, spare us the update. It’s interesting to see when John and Jane Q. Public come walking in your business’s door; it’s pointless when Ted from Accounting shares his cigarette break comings and goings.
  2. Starbucks – got a craving for a half-caff nonfat venti cappuccino? No one cares. Your daily errands may help build your Foursquare score and clout with businesses, but who’s so arrogant as to think their contacts care? If your check-in is all about you, best keep it to yourself.
  3. Your house – how desperate are people to “game” the Foursquare system that they create a location for their homes and check in every time they walk through their front doors? Before Foursquare recently changed their privacy settings for residences, I was fond of checking into obvious “home” locations and posting statuses like “going through the underwear drawer” or “nice Bieber memorabilia!” What can I say? I’m a class act.

Perhaps you think I’m missing the point about Foursquare. Sharing check-ins is a great way to build commonality across networks, meet new friends and learn what’s happening to contacts in real-time. Here’s the thing: I’m not missing it. I get it completely. You can utilize Foursquare perfectly and still not be an annoying, over-sharing attention whore.

“But,” you whine, “if I’m not sharing my Foursquare check-in on Twitter, how will anyone know where I’ve been?” That question deserves a detailed answer, one that you can provide by asking yourself the following:

  • Is there any reason someone would WANT to know about this check-in?
  • Am I connected on Foursquare to the people whose knowledge of my check-in I so desperately care about? Why or why not?
  • How will people find out about something important if I don’t share it?

If no one has a reason to care, it should be pretty clear that your check-in doesn’t need to be shared. If you believe they may care, invite them to connect with you on Foursquare. That way, every one of your check-ins can be accessed without overwhelming all of your connections’ timelines. If they don’t choose to connect with you, they’ve told you they don’t care.

The last question should steer you in what I believe is the direction best suited for location-based social media. You can still build your network through shared experiences – amongst friends and random strangers alike – without pushing pointless updates across platforms. I do so with Sonar – a mobile application that uncovers the hidden connections shared with nearby people. Linked to my Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, Sonar tells me when I’ve checked into the same location as another contact…or when I’ve checked in to the same place as someone I may/could/should know (“Jane has also checked into Whole Foods. You share two Twitter connections. View her profile here”). Best of all, Sonar runs unobtrusively in the background of my iPhone and pushes me relevant notifications without bothering anyone else (the Android app is on the way).

Isn’t this a much better option than the endless amounts of location-based bait dropped in the faint hopes of catching new connections? Why, in a world of Sonar (and similar apps), are people still sharing insignificant check-ins across multiple platforms? If ignorance was the excuse, I hope you’ll reform your bad habits. If you have another reason, for the love of God, please share it in the comments section on this post.

Just don’t post your rants on Twitter. My feed is already crammed with worthlessness.

Coming tomorrow – proof that I’m a hypocrite: the Foursquare check-ins I approve of sharing across social media networks.