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Five reasons to check out of Foursquare

I checked out. I deleted the app and resigned my mayorships. You know what? I don't miss it at all.
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Written by Jennifer Leggio on

If this blog post were a movie, one might hear the noise of a record screeching to a halt. Other than some privacy criticisms, I've been a Foursquare fan girl since last summer. Lately, however, I've found that Foursquare is becoming more of a nuisance than a benefit. Even though the excitement was there whenever I would add onto my 20+ mayorships or equal number of badges, I would still have to ask "Why am I doing this?" So as a trial, last week I deleted the application and resigned my mayorships. You know something? I don't miss it at all. Here are five reasons why:

1. Distractions - Two weeks ago I went to a San Jose Sharks game. Being a die-hard hockey fan I'm usually the first to shush people who try to talk to me during play. However, I was so focused on earning that elusive Swarm badge (checking in with 50+ people) that due to constantly refreshing HP Pavilion attendees on my BlackBerry, I missed seeing a goal. That was a wake-up call. Maybe it's a lack of personal control, but it's something I've seen in many Foursquare users. Not to mention, time spent with other Foursquare users often results in banter about Foursquare. I want to talk about more pressing things when I'm with friends. Don't you?

2. Disappointment - While several venues in my area have started to offer "mayor specials" and "Foursquare specials," it seemed that they couldn't execute well on them. My second-favorite pub, for instance, offered a mayor special yet every time I went in there, no one knew what I was talking about. I either had to grumble under my breath or ask for the manager, the latter of which made me feel high maintenance. The bigger issue, of course, was that instituting this mayor special was having the opposite effect on one of its most loyal customers: it was making me want to go somewhere else. Venues may not be ready for this type of technology and are jumping on it too soon. Lack of execution creates disloyal customers.

3. Apathy - I really don't care where all of my friends are at any given time during the day. One of my friends actually started checking in from his couch and his shower. I soon unfriended him because that's just ridiculous, but it made me realize that if I want to know where one of my friends are, it's easy enough to reach out and ask.

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4. Annoyance - Once I was at a coffee shop I hadn't yet unchecked the option to show that I am at a certain location. While Foursquare meet-ups can be interesting, sometimes if you're just trying to get in and out of a place they can be annoying. Not wanting to be rude I chatted with this person, but when I got home I changed my setting. Added annoyance: People I don't know adding me over and over again despite my ignoring the request. Automation of friend requests on Foursquare is bad and spammy. I've since disconnected my Twitter account from Foursquare.

5. Obsession - I was a woman obsessed. Work colleagues would stop me before we'd start eating at lunch to see if I remembered to check in, because if I didn't I would get frustrated once back at the office. I created a location for my boyfriend's house just so I could continue to get points (note: he does not use Foursquare). It got out of control, and other than missing quality goals at hockey games I was starting to sacrifice quality time.

Of course, there are privacy issues but those exist on every social network. I always had my privacy settings tight and am careful now on all social networks not to be too specific about where I am at any given time. Someone mentioned that the tips are valuable and worth the other headaches. Tips are supposed to ideally serve as geolocational nuggets that help you decide where to go in any given area. The problem is that they aren't monitored well, if at all, and many of the ones I came across were not appropriate or helpful.

There are absolutely benefits to using Foursquare but they just aren't so powerful that I'm willing to overlook what my lack of control was doing to my life. I didn't fully delete my Foursquare profile -- just the application-- in the off chance that I start to go through major withdrawals. But to try and deter myself from doing that I resigned all of my mayorships but one and even closed my home venues. I do think that re-installing the application and using Foursquare when I travel or when I attend a conference could be valuable, but I'll tackle that when I come to it.

Geolocational technology is going to start to have a bigger play in business networking and company management in the coming months (HubSpot has a great article detailing how). It's not something that I want to ignore nor is it something that I will stop writing about. For me personally, one of the things that has always helped me find balance in social networking is the ability to not use it at any given time. Twitter and Facebook aren't necessarily time-sensitive. Foursquare, and other services like it, are. Maybe I'm becoming a geolocational Luddite, but even though I support geolocational technologies for businesses, as an independent consumer, I have to check out.

For another perspective, here's a funny video from Adam Rosenberg of the Center For Democracy & Technology on Foursquare overload after South By Southwest Interactive:

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