I just started using Foursquare. Normally I wouldn’t make an announcement about using a new social media site, especially because I embrace most of them unconditionally, but Foursquare is one of those that I found almost dangerous. Why in the world would you want people to know exactly where you are, at any given point in the day? Clearly it’s a bit stalker-ish. (And surely stalkers have taken note. Yet because we live in a culture where you don’t have to ask what other people are doing. Just see what they RSVP’d to on Facebook…)
But I signed up anyway, promising myself that I’d never use it. That is until I noticed that a friend of mine was the Mayor of my favorite local restaurant. He had checked in a staggering 10 times. I had been there at LEAST that many times in the past few months. That was enough to stoke my interest. I decided to treat myself, checking in at said restaurant for the very first time. And ZOOM — I had earned my very first Badge, the Newbie. Then I see that the Logo TV network has created a promotional Badge for RuPaul’s Drag Race, my favorite TV show. But the contest has curiously obscure contest rules. From what I gather, if you check in at fabulous, Logo-endorsed locations, you can win a trip to New York City to attend a special season finale Rupaul’s Drag Race viewing party. (NOTE — Not only is it absurd that I want to win a trip to a city that I already live in, but RuPaul may not even be at the party. But that’s OK because he retweeted me the other day. And that means we’re good friends now.)
I can’t say that I’m “hooked” as much as I can say that now I understand. Foursquare stokes two layers of competition — competition with others (Mayorship, wherein you’re master of your domain) and with one’s self (Badges, which are emblems of the modern social butterfly). Others may fee Foursquare’s incentives as being in the know, or being in the right place at the right time, with the right people.
Just like many other social networking sites before it, I’m sure I’ll stop using it at some point. Probably the point at which I unlock that Drag Race Badge. Until next season’s contest, that is.