There’s a new phenomenon sweeping through cyberspace, and maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I just don’t get it: on Facebook, seemingly all my friends are “checking into” places using Apps like Foursquare.
I’ll see status updates that say, John Smith is at Red Robin or Jane Doe is at Target. Every night, one of my friends updates his status to show he is at warm, comfy bed with my wife. I have two questions:
- Do we really need to know your whereabouts every minute of every day?
- Is it wise to announce to the world that you aren’t even home?
I mean, we’re all guilty of this already, I suppose. My Facebook status yesterday read, Mark needs a break. Feels like a good day to stomp around Powell’s Books for awhile. Which means I essentially told the world “I won’t be home for a few hours – now would be a good time to come rob me!” Right? Anybody who has even a passing knowledge of my life knows that I’m divorced, share custody of my kids, and they aren’t with me this week. So I guess taking it one step further with Foursquare isn’t really a big deal, unless you’re obsessive about it and update every time you set foot outside or close the bathroom door. Which, umm, some of my friends do. It’s interesting, when you think about it: in the 21st century, we have witnessed the demise of TMI.
How different would the world have been if social media had existed centuries earlier? Think about some of the status updates, tweets, and Foursquare check-ins we would have been privy to!
Ben Franklin thinks a storm is approaching. Now would be a good time to go fly a kite.
Hannibal is at Pyrenees with army and elephants.
Julius Caesar The @Colosseum is packed today. Looking forward to the #gladiator games. I give them a thumbs up! Or thumbs down…LOL.
Our historical figures didn’t bother sharing their every thought or move with the rest of the world! Probably a good thing, too. George Washington might never have made it across the Delaware. Not that the British would necessarily have been ready to stop him on the other side, though. They might’ve been too busy playing Angry Birds.
I got to thinking about all of this yesterday because, when I went to Powell’s Books, I brought along my iPod Touch. I had downloaded this cool new App called Meridian, which presumably allows you to type in the name of any book Powell’s has in stock, and it will guide you directly to the book through step-by-step directions. You might think this sounds silly, but Powell’s is no ordinary bookstore. It encompasses an entire city block in downtown Portland and is several stories tall. It’s considered the world’s largest independent bookstore, with over a million titles stocked on its shelves. To a book lover, it is Heaven, Paradise and Nirvana all rolled into one, a glorious collection of new and used books covering every topic under the sun. The cavernous rooms are all color-coded: the Gold Room contains mysteries and thrillers, the Blue Room houses literature and poetry, the Orange Room contains cookbooks, and so forth and so on. Having this App, with turn-by-turn directions, would definitely be a boon!
Only, when I fired it up, it wasn’t working. I have no idea why – the WiFi connection worked fine, but the App showed me nothing. For a few brief moments, I panicked. What am I going to do now? I wondered. How will I find the book I’m looking for??
And then I remembered that I’ve been shopping at Powell’s for fifteen years and have always been able to find what I needed. There are computers scattered throughout the store, and an army of helpful employees who can hold your hand and walk you to the right shelf if you ask them kindly. And I realized right then and there how soft we, as a society, have become.
I remember when you walked into the library and had to use the card catalog. Ahh, the Dewey Decimal System – how antiquated. And yet, it worked just fine! I imagine my ancestors (who may or may not have been Austrian) thought the Abacus was a perfectly satisfactory counting tool, as well. Don’t even get me started on mimeographs. Remember the way the paper was all limp and damp and blue and had a certain smell when it came off the machine? Ahh, the good ol’ days! Sometimes I long for simpler times. But then I turn on my LCD television and scroll through the programs on my DVR and I get over it.
On a final note, you can probably tell that I changed to a new theme. I like this one a lot – Mystique’s got a bunch of really cool features, and I like the colors. All that grey was starting to get me down. I like the different post formats – I can just post an image, or a quote, or an aside, rather than a 1000-word rant, if the mood strikes. Which is, oddly enough, pretty much just like a Facebook status update. Ahh, the possibilities.
TMI? There’s no such thing anymore.
- Powell’s introduced mapping app (oregonlive.com)
- Checking In Or Checking Out? Predicting The Future Of The Check-In Industry (searchmarketingstandard.com)