These days, you can do almost anything online, including letting people know where you are and what you’re doing – that’s a central part of why Twitter started, after all, to let people know in an instant what you’re up to. It’s becoming a prominent part of keeping up with social media, because of how much location is a part of whatever you’re doing. “I’m going to the mall, anybody want to meet me?” isn’t very useful without the location.
However, there are lots of people who’re just as happy to keep their location information down to a minimum, too. People who’ve lived their whole lives in the Internet age seem to be less subject to this, but it’s still a perfectly understandable phenomenon. There are predators online just like everywhere else, so a lot of people aren’t comfortable with the idea of making themselves easy to find for anyone they don’t already know.
Of course, there’s also the advent of pan-Internet scavenger hunts and a new kind of coupon campaign connected to this, too. The companies that have are more active at keeping track of people’s locations are doing everything they can to encourage people to use them all the time, no matter whether they have to use incentives with retail partners or gameplay to do so. Sites like Foursquare.com have become very popular as a result.
Perhaps it’s just a matter of who cares whether a lot of people know exactly where they are and who don’t that will determine whether this is a trend or a turning point. There are solid arguments on both sides, ranging from the idea that such a detailed level of info reduces the user’s safety to the point that it makes spontaneous gatherings a lot more possible. Nevertheless, the point remains that location-based media is here to stay, whether they continue to increase in popularity or not.
With the advent of phone access to social media, it’s a safe bet that services like these are only going to become more available as time passes. The fact that younger people are a lot more ready to use them than older people are may wind up spurring them on to greater and greater success, too (see our previous post on seniors using Facebook and Twitter). It’ll be interesting to see where this takes social media and the Internet as a whole in the future.