Multiple Virtualities

 In Culture, Feature

What’s your social location sharing style?


Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past two years, you’re privy to the whole new host of social location tools (Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places, to name a few) that allow you to use your handy dandy smartphone to stake out and claim your own virtual venues. But it’s not the tools themselves we’re here to talk about — it’s the unbelievable “multiple virtualities” (personalities in the virtual world, of course) that are miraculously emerging as a result. In the wake of such location-tech madness, we thought it’d be fun to share a few of our favorite “virtualities.” Who knows: Maybe one of them matches your social location sharing style.

The “Oh My…TMI”
We all know the type—or have fallen prey to it—at least a time or two. You know, that friend or acquaintance who has, for lack of a better word, verbal diarrhea, whose statuses you end up hiding on Facebook? Sharing—or receiving—”too much information” a la Foursquare has fed this personality type tenfold. We have to admit: The new badges and points for checking in are sort of exhilarating. But there comes a time when one must learn to be a bit more judicious as to which check-ins should be shared—or even made at all. Sometimes what happens in Vegas really should just stay in Vegas—especially if you find yourself at a bail bond office at 4am!

The “Fair-Weather Friend”
You can have a total BFF in the non-virtual world who sucks as a virtual friend. Not to sound stalker-ish, but we want to know where you are at least some of the time. The Fair-Weather Friend comes and goes on social media as quickly as the St. Louis weather. These hot-and-cold virtualities will share their location for a few days, and just when you’re starting to feel a few e-magical sparks, they disappear from your radar for days or weeks on end.

The “Oops I Slid Off-the-Grid Again”
No, we aren’t referring to Britney Spears here; this is actually the weirdly mysterious person who’s always checking in, but for reasons unbeknownst to us, is choosing not to share their location and therefore appears on Foursquare as “off-the-grid.” Sure, we all want to hide our location from time to time, but unless you’re an undercover agent, throw us some sugar once in a while.

The “Mayor Maniac”
It feels pretty good to earn Foursquare’s “mayor” title at one of our favorite local spots (Prime 1000, anyone?). It serves to acknowledge our dedication and devotion to all STL places great and necessary. But the Mayor Maniac is that one irksome friend who’s always right at your back, constantly trolling for everyone else’s beloved mayor titles. Seems this greedy player is set out to dethrone you — even if it’s for mayor of the “Johnny on the Spot.”

The “Point Piggy”
There are always those friends who seem to rack up an unbelievable amount of Foursquare points. How the heck do they do that? We check in dutifully all week long, only to notice our Point Piggy friends have several hundred more than we do! As it turns out, the point explosion is fanangled by checking into busy places (or every location without fail) and a bit of gaming the system. These points may be worth zilch in the non-virtual world, but they most definitely build chicGeek pride, so watch out Point Piggy: We’re on to you.

The “Drive-By Shooter”
This culprit is the one who’s checking into a new location so often (we’re talking every five minutes or less) that they make Ashton Kutcher’s Twitter behavior look amateur. Unless you work as a delivery person, this is not chic-Geek acceptable. Remember: Standing in the center of the mall and checking into every store does not actually count as being there—in the virtual world— or the real one. The point of social location tools like Foursquare is to actually get you out exploring and enjoying your world and sharing it with your friends, so join in the fun and get playing!



With a host of new social location tools from Foursquare to Gowalla, multiple personalities have emerged.

With a host of new social location tools from Foursquare to Gowalla, multiple personalities have emerged.


Photo credit: Illustration by Sarah Quatrano

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