With the increase of geo-location "check-in" apps, such as the originals Foursquare and Gowalla, seeing where people eat, drink, sleep, shop, and, even in some cases, where they live, is starting to become part of the back chatter of social media. A lot of us tried Foursquare before it went big, some of us tried Gowalla, and others then updated their Yelp apps so they could "check-in," we have become "Mayors," "Founders," "Leaders," and "Regulars." There have even been times where people have become territorial over losing their mayorship's and then the times where you run into someone just because they checked-in and decided to look up from their iPhone for a brief second.
Some of us have earned the "10 coffee shop" pin, we're "Jet-setters," "Photogenic," "Jobs" (Apple fanatics), "Animal House," and "Players." But in most cases "Don't Stop Believing" that we're "Over sharing" to the "Socialites," "Gossip Girls," and "Douchebags" who rode "Ziggy's wagon" while "on a boat" to be "Brooklyn 4 life" while on a "School night." (Yeah, I had fun with that sentence...)
Right now these geo-location apps give the user a sense of control. The applications don't auto check-in as the user has to do so manually, but I'm sure with a few tweaks Android and iPhones could easily do this. But for now, thankfully, the user still has to start the app to check-in. Some users have established set rules for when they check-in while others check-in to every location they step foot in (or in the case of a recent tweet, where they "window shop.") While the user is policing his or her own level of information control, there are times where others just through caution to the wind.
When it comes down to the rules, there is one rule in which I have seen very few people observe: Do not use your home as a check-in spot. Using where you live as a location, in my opinion, is never a good idea. When I pull up Foursquare or Gowalla I can count at least five or six check in locations nearby. Another rule I have is to use discretion when you check-in: "Mike's Shag Pad" (ha ha, ya I know...funny) will never happen (even though I have been amazed what comes up when you check-in while near a college campus...). We sometimes don't need to know if you blazed a path of destruction in Las Vegas. But if you did, cheers! (Although keep it in Las Vegas).
So what led me to writing this post was the two things that occurred to me today: one, I lost a mayorship and two, a person said "hi" to me after a check-in. But in both of those activities I managed to make additional connections and to learn more about the people in my community. I’ve made friends based on check-ins. I've checked into places in Seattle and have connected with Soccer fans during the MLS Cup, I've checked in at places in Vancouver and made connections with fans during the Olympics, and I even managed to make connections at the local microbrewery (and learn some great beer making tips in the process).
While these apps allow us to make connections, we still have to extend a hand, raise a glass, or cheer on your team to make the final human connection.