For about a month in 1987, when I was in 5th grade, foursquare took over as the game of choice at Draper Elementary. While football was still king for the 30-minute lunch recess, foursquare dominated the shorter 15-minute morning and afternoon recess time slots. I often found myself in the square tangling with some of the best athletes the school had to offer. Competition was fierce, ruthless even. What made matters worse was when one of the roosters had his favorite hen in the game. The awkward affections of female company always outweighed the bonds of friendship and you could guarantee that your buddy would execute a perfectly placed “slam” shot to get you out of the square next to him so that his queen could sidle next to his throne. The game always started off with the declaration of rules, “no duck feet, no bobbles, no holds…” and off we went. The usual suspects dominated the squares for that short month before tetherball regained its place as king of the short recess games.
I work for Domo, a business intelligence company based near Provo, UT. We recently started a social experiment aimed at stretching our social legs, so to speak. We have been asked to try a number of social platforms, use them for a bit, see what we like, what we don’t like and everything in between. One of the requirements was to download Foursquare and become “mayor” of a particular locale. I have always had an aversion to Foursquare and after using it for a few weeks, that aversion has transformed into dislike and here some reasons why.
1. I really dislike when people use social channels to try and make their rather unexceptional lives appear to be exceptional. You know the types, they disappear for months at a time until they buy a new car, go on some exotic vacation or brag about their kids’ accomplishments. Foursquare changed me into “that guy”. I didn’t want to check-in everywhere I went (see #2) so I reserved my check-ins to places that were above the norm. Timing was such that I went on vacation to Disneyland and then stayed at the Ritz Carlton in Marina Del Ray, CA. Guess where I checked in? “Hey everyone, look at me! I am at Disneyland and you’re not!” “I guess I am a pretty big deal, when I travel I stay at Ritz Carlton resorts, enjoy that Holiday Inn you always stay at.” Ok, so I didn’t say those things exactly but by choosing to selectively check in at those places isn’t that what I was REALLY saying? What a jerk. Those of you that know me know that I am not a huge Disney fan and I certainly don’t live the Ritz lifestyle. So why did I do it? Ego. Plain and simple.
2. If we could all read each others’ minds we would see that while we don’t care one iota what other people are doing all day, where they are every minute of the day, we think that others DO care about what WE are doing and where WE are right? I did hold pretty firm not to check-in to every place I went but unfortunately some people that I follow did make a point of it and my phone constantly buzzed each time someone checked into their “humble abode”. Oh, by the way, I am a Mormon and I have a lot of Mormon friends. To my Mormon friends, please don’t check-in at church. He knows if you are there or not.
3. Part of earning my “Foursquare Badge” for the #domosocial experiment was to become a mayor. Well, I am not about to check-in a million times at Cal Ranch in Spanish Fork (since everyone loves that store) to earn my mayorship. So, like most lame-o folks, I created a custom location (my house) and became mayor immediately. In general, I am not a fan of allowing someone to win something without competing, so I hated this feature.
So that is my Foursquare story; it facilitated in making me a pompous jerk and I was constantly bothered by the notion that people would check-in to their cubicle at work, Wal-mart, gas stations etc. I am sure there are ways to turn off the notifications and there are probably some cool features but it comes down to this, I don’t want people to always know where I am and I don’t care where they are, so why would I use Foursquare? That is why I am taking my ball and going home.