Are you checking in?

Foursquare and Facebook Places are two of many social media applications that allow you to announce your current location to businesses, friends, and/or the world. While some recent articles including this one, suggest that the popularity of checking in is waning, enabling and promoting check ins are central efforts to many businesses’ marketing strategies.

Honestly, I don’t get it. I understand how check in can benefit a business and a consumer, and most things virtual as a well trained Baby Boomer parent of a Millennial who keeps me up to date. What I don’t understand is why people would want to tell everyone where they are, moment to moment. (Tim, yes I am talking about you.) It’s like a professional burglar’s dream: Whose home is empty right now, available for the pickings?

Aren’t we already, obsessively connected enough, without announcing our every move as we travel the metaphorical game board of life?  Isn’t it enough that some friends already seem compelled to share every random thought, via Facebook and Twitter and so on… including thoughts they’d be unlikely to voice if we were face to face?

There are potential dangers to over-sharing our location information, but the biggest one may be the loss of any semblance of privacy. Many social media sites already use our posts and likes to build marketing dossiers on users, to sell at a profit, and there are services that now make a business out of generating reports on what people are doing online – not just at work but on their own time. Must we add to their data by publicizing our choices in where we go, and when we go there?

What do you think: Is it worth it to exchange our priceless privacy for a discount coupon or an easy Facebook post, or to reward a favored brand?

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