There is a huge difference between using technology to expand the quality of one’s life and having it suck the life out of human relationships.
Given my huge belief in building business on human relationships, the more I work with larger clients the more I realize how stressful technology can be and how it can remove the most important quality of business – the human quality. That’s why, with the season of Lent beginning today, I’ve decided to give up Foursquare for 40 days in order to build better human relationships in both the professional and personal areas of my life.
For those millions of people that have never heard of Foursquare – it is a smartphone application that allows people to “check-in” to venues, events and businesses to inform their friends of their current location while earning virtual badges. Foursquare also allows businesses to convey great specials and coupons when a customer checks into their establishment.
This application is quite addictive as human beings try to get more virtual badges than their friends or oust their friend as a mayor (most check-ins) to a particular location. To some, it’s a game that is supposed to increase human interaction. To others, it’s called the “stalker app”.
Why I’m giving up Foursquare.
You might be wondering how a social media consultant could give up one of the top ranking social media tools out there – at least for a while. The honest answer is that, although I do help my clients with their social media online strategies, my focus is on optimizing their online content to funnel correctly into search engines and make human connections with their target market. In addition, wisdom in a tool does not mean that you need to live within a tool in order to understand how to utilize its function to increase business.
Let’s go a step further, shall we?
Reasons I am giving up Foursquare for 40 days:
1. It can easily lead the wrong people to know your every move. Check into your home and they know you are there. Check into Disney World and people know your home is vacant.
2. It takes away from the human relationship. All attention should be given to a person when you are meeting them at a location. Shaking a hand and then saying “Excuse me while I check-in.” leaves a bad taste in your customers/clients/peers mouth.
3. It distracts from the now. I have a peer who gets a text message on her smartphone every time one of her friends checks into Foursquare. Every time I have a business meeting with her, the phone constantly turns on and she looks down to see what it is. Neither of us are able to give all to the meeting with constant “check-in” interruptions.
4. There is no real value gained. Yes, if you are lucky, you may come across a special listed only on Foursquare but obsessing over getting virtual badges adds no quality to your life or the lives of those around you. You can’t cash in those badges or get the time back you spent accumulating them.
5. No true mission. When Foursquare was first made public, it was about getting people to new places and expanding one’s life by trying new things. Then it was about becoming mayor – which meant you shouldn’t try new places but go to the same ones over to have the most check-ins. Over time, it turned into venturing to places to get a special badge or discount – not caring about the quality of the products or services. Today, it has become a fad and the mission is lost.
The reason I am known as the Human SEOtm is because I place humans first and then technology. When the technology is meant to enhance or build human relationships or add to the quality of a person’s life, then it is a product that has my support and respect. However, when a product’s mission becomes a bit cloudy, it loses focus and becomes a fad – just like the 80’s.
So Foursquare is one of those items I will be giving up for Lent as it is the perfect opportunity to truly see whether the product add or removes to the quality of my own life. Over the 40 days, I will be taking note as to how the human relationships – both offline and online – have changed and whether giving up, being an active regular Foursquare user, becomes a permanent change in my life.
Technology should always be about building human relationships or adding to the quality of human life. That should always be its mission if any product wants to be successful.
What are your thoughts on Foursquare? Do you use it? How has it impacted the quality of your life both online and offline?