As a bit of a social networking junkie and a downright nerd when it comes to all things connected, I get a bit of a kick out of the social networking app called Foursquare. If you’re unfamiliar with it, this is an app that lives on your favorite mobile device that allows you to ‘check-in’ at whatever business you happen to be in. They have made this part of a game; you earn little trinkets and doo-dads and if you go to the same place enough times, you eventually become ‘mayor’. As I understand it, some places offer specials to the Foursquare mayor of their business, but I have yet to be treated like royalty. There are other similar programs out there, such as Gowalla, plus there is Facebook Places and Google Places (and the check-ins on Google+) that allow you to do the same thing for the most part. Early in my discovery of Foursquare, I would earn myself some eye rolls from the folks I was with because I would squeal (in a very masculine voice) that I was now the mayor of places like the Cozy-Have-A-Snack1. There were several blogger and Twitter types that would gripe when Foursquare announced to the world that we had just become mayor. I turned that feature off; I only update Twitter when I want people to know where I am.
And, while I’m on the subject, I’m really not that concerned about people knowing where I am because I’m the one that is doing and controlling the announcing. It’s not like my phone is automatically checking me in to their locations.
While I don’t really have an interest in the idea of earning mayorships of businesses that I visit frequently, I do think it’s a hoot when I earn one, especially if I’ve only been to that location once or twice. I’m more excited to see who else is checked in to the same location I’m at and the excitement of seeing another geek on the street and in the wild. It’s kind of like the early days of being out as a gay and you’d get a little giddy when you saw another gay on the street. This latter example subsided for me considerably when I lived in Boston and my gaydar blew several fuses, a circuit breaker and any modicum of composure when I walked down Newbury Street for the first time.
But I digress.
Up until recently I was the mayor of the Dunkin’ Donuts closest to work. I held this title for a long time. There were no advertised specials nor was my photo plastered on the wall, but ever since I was mayor I didn’t have any clear liquid stuff sprayed into tea nor did I receive a bagel with pink goo on it by mistake. My orders have been accurate. While we were in Denver, I received word that a person by the name of Amanda S. had taken over as mayor of the Dunkin’ Donuts.
When I checked in today, I noticed that she was also checked in to the location. At long last, our paths were crossing and we would have the opportunity to meet. I walked into the restaurant and saw that they had no customers. Must be she had already left. I asked for my usual unsweetened iced tea and after someone went to get it, I asked for lemon.
“Amanda, be sure to put a lemon in it”, the cashier yelled over to the prep station.
Sure enough, Amanda with the lemon is Amanda S. the mayor of Dunkin’ Donuts on Foursquare. I bet she thought she was quite crafty by not wearing her name tag, but the Hardy Boy in me figured it out. She wasn’t hiding under the secret stair case, she was right there, working at the Dunkin’ Donuts and checking in every time she had to work.
When she came back to give me my tea I cocked an eyebrow and pointed a finger at her. “Amanda? Amanda S from Foursquare?”
She smiled, blushed and said yes.
I smiled and said, “nice to meet you.”
And that’s what makes social networking cool.
1 Über points to the person that can name that very obscure pop culture reference.