Online Check-In Etiquette
Social media sites like Facebook have been around for a decade or so, but one of the more recent developments has been the “check-in”. Check-ins make it easy to tell people where you are and what you’re doing. A lot of times, this is done out of pure vanity, but it can also have less narcissistic uses.
My friends and I make pretty extensive use of Facebook’s check-in feature. Whenever we go out to a bar or a museum or whatnot, somebody inevitably tags us all in a Facebook post. A few months ago, we started tagging this one friend who was out of town. Pretty soon this guy was “checking in” into bars and parties in five different states. We kept getting sillier and sillier until I ruined it. I used my Photoshop skills to a place him and into the situation room right behind President Obama. After that people stopped checking him in. I had taken the joke just a little too far.
Foursquare is the granddaddy of checking into places. As a frequent Twitter user, I’m often annoyed by automated messages like “I’m at Wal-Mart” or “I just ousted Lester McFeely as the mayor of Sam’s Strip Club.” Over the years, I’ve gained a certain tolerance for these tweets, but only when used wisely. If you have something to say about a place, like how good the food is, then you’re providing useful information. On the other hand, if you’re checking into the rail station on the way to work every morning (I actually saw this), don’t be surprised if I unfollow you. I’ve got too much going on in my day-to-day life to worry about your daily routines. Save the check-in tweets for the truly unusual.
GoMiso, GetGlue and Other Check-In Abominations
There is a new evil lurking online. GoMiso, GetGlue and services like them can now check you in to the media you consume, telling all of your Twitter followers what show you’re watching. I honestly can’t think of a legitimate use for this, and I’m pretty quick to unfollow Twitter users that wish to spam me with such dribble. Once again, it comes down to the difference between the mundane and the unusual. If you’ve got a funny clip, by all means share it. Just don’t tell me everything you’re watching.
While excessive check-ins can be annoying, the good news is that there’s an element of natural selection involved in the process. People who check-in too much are more likely to be ignored in the long term, and this kind of online obscurity will eventually kill off the fad. Of course, by the time that happens, there’ll be new annoying trends out there instead. Because let’s face it, narcissism and douchiness never take a vacation.