Foursquare is not an option

I lead a relatively “visible” online life. I tweet and I blog, and I’ve been active in various communities and places ever since I’ve been online. I know a good number of people online, consider one of my best friends someone I met online, and a lot more people know of me through the Internet though I might not know them.

But Foursquare (and other location-sharing services) has never been an option for me. I realize you can limit visibility of your updates, but why will I want the world to know exactly where I am? I can understand the glamor of it if I travel–hey, I’m in Paris, and now I’m in Rome, booyah!–but I lead a rather normal, boring life. I wake up in the morning and get to work, and after work I either go home or pass by a place or two before retiring. Occasionally things are exciting: I have a dinner party to go to, or a trip for business or vacation.

But do I really want someone to have the ability to walk up to me and say “Hi! You’re angelamaria, I know you through the so-and-so website! I saw you were here on Foursquare and thought I’d say hi!”

Antisocial? Maybe, but I think it comes with the realization I have a lot less privacy than I thought I had.

There is no such thing as privacy online

I know the very idea of leading a vibrant online life seems to say the opposite: there is no such thing as privacy. Once it’s on the Internet, it’s there forever. And having been here for a long time, I’ve become a lot more protective of my anonymity.

“But I thought you said you liked online visibility!”

I know, I’m in a bit of a pickle, aren’t I? It’s just another juggling game. These services online–a lot of them are free, of no monetary cost to use, but you do give them something in exchange for using their services: your privacy. Sometimes the trade is fair, and sometimes it’s not enough. It’s up to each individual to find out where that fine line is.

A friend recently said that it seems that as we get older, we get a little more conservative with sharing. That’s completely true for me:

  1. 2000 – 2003 (thereabouts) – I had an online journal hosted on my website, maintained by hand. No permissions “system”. There were sometimes “hidden” links.
  2. 2001 – Livejournal created.
  3. 2002 – 2009 – Livejournal generally public, with friends-locked entries. As the years went on, I had more and more friends locked entries, and made heavier use of group filters.
  4. 2009 – present – Livejournal completely locked to public and contains only friends-only entries.

As I got older, privacy online has become more and more of an issue. People knowing what you had for breakfast is harmless for me, but people I don’t know knowing where to go find me to harass me is another matter.

And that’s why you’ll never find me in Foursquare ;)