Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Why I deleted my 4sq account

I deleted my account at 4square. I did this during my recent Twitter detox and after I got a notification that someone had ousted me as Mayor of somewhere. Kinda made me realise that this 4square stuff is also about numbers.

I don't get social networks. Why do I need these numbers? Is it like some popularity thing? You know. I got so many comments on my blog, I got so many followers, I'm the Mayor of so many places. Is that some confirmation of your very cool personality? I'm sure it's great networking but I think I've had it with this obsession with numbers and fame in a place that's basically binary code.

4square was cool with all the useful tips about places, telling you what to try and what to do where. But after some time I began to feel weird when I reached out for my iPhone and rushed to check in. Why? Just so I can retain my Mayorship?'s only a website you know. You might be a Mayor but you won't be cutting ribbons. Besides, you can even create a place in your toilet pot and become it's Mayor. Yeah! Ain't no one removing me from my shit pot! Bugger off, go take a dump!

And from what I hear, you don't have to be at a place physically. You can check in wherever you want at the 4sq website. So I can check in to some cool Russian bordello sitting out here in Lower Parel? So much for authenticity. Kinda like creating bots to increase your follow count. Kinda like those spammy emails to increase your pee-pee size. Uh-huh.

Oh ok. I get that 4square is cool if you're in a new place that you don't know and you want to find the coolest, most hippest and happening thing. Yeah, I'm willing to let that once-in-a-lifetime chance pass me by. I'll use Lonely Planet or ask some dude. Or hey, there's always Twitter. Enough of all this badges, mayorships and check ins. Some real world shit too.


compulsivewriter said...

these little apps on the phone alienate us from the people we are with. the disengage us from our surroundings. and there's this anxiety to check in, to make sure you update stuff. it doesnt do good things to our well-being, does it?

i will stick to foursquare for adding tips and all that. but if the 'cyclewallah by my house' type people dont ease out. i will quit it.

Prolific Dyslexic said...

I mostly agree with you when you say that social networks are about numbers. I think the reason they are about numbers is that the owners have something to deliver to advertisers/sponsors.
The loopholes in foursquare and the ego issues it creates are very annoying.
But I still love the utility it provides. Tips are easier to find than to ask people. And it would be an easier way than twitter to meet new people in a new place.
Of course the fact that we're always out to game the system and that it isn't much developed in India are pain points.
As is the Indian mentality, people are out to grab the fruits (benefits) rather than sow the seeds (create content). When we have very few people creating content, it doesn't bode well for the system.
So what I'm going to do is to focus on creating quality content and to some extent moderate/curate the other content that comes in (being a privileged super-user) rather than just check-in for mayorships or points. Thanks for the reality-check.
And if all else fails, like ShaaqT says, I'm out too.

krist0ph3r said...

i guess it's all about maturity of a network.

do we brag about the number of channels our TVs have? probably not.

do we brag about the number of friends we have on facebook? i don't know any people who do.

twitter, foursquare, and every other network will head that way.

it's all about communication. we didn't need tv when we were happy with radio. we didn't need mobile phones when we had landlines. we didn't need the internet when we had BBS, messengers when we had IRC, yada yada. but those things came and stayed. and we can't imagine life without most of them.

eventually LBS will become a way of life. maybe not foursquare (just like mySpace paved the way for facebook's current supremacy), but i predict that it will be there. and people who aren't on it will just miss on something that will add value to their lives.

personally, i rarely check in to foursquare. i never fake checkin to someplace i am not at. and i'm happy when someone ousts me as a mayor, because someone else has discovered an awesome place, hopefully because i put it on the map for them :)

ps: i'll probably expand this comment on my blog...stay tuned :)

sanely insane said...

Things are what we make them out to be...even when there was Orkut i met up a lot of interesting ppl there

On my blogs, twitter or FB i've never looked at my number count...the only thing that i check for is that the people i have there am i having conversations with them or have they become jst another strange face flowing by

if becoming a 'mayor' anywhere is important to u...u will go after no.s...its not an externally imposed reaction...its an innate desire

Anaggh Desai said...

Great stuff Mr.G, I totally empathize with your thoughts. Having said that would also say, if you allow anything to rule your life then, your expectations would always be crushed. Learn it, use it, leave it, just like you would do for a movie, book, toy etc. You do not stop because a lot of others have read, seen, played with it. Or a more relevant example can be a car or iPhone - the binary game is everywhere, right down to the TAKA we take home, there's no escaping it & as time goes, it's just going to increase.

The best way is to move along with it; But hey it's always a personal choice at the end of the day.

Anil P said...

It's about numbers. Has always been, will always be. It's like we need the numbers to help us keep our head above water (nee anonymity).

Numbers seemingly validate our time in virtual space, where each individual is a herd all by himself or herself.

suddentwilight said...

u r the major of our hearts...
and i doubt anyone can replace u there !

Harman said...

I use 4SQ as a personal diary that wehere I have visited in past month or so.

aar4 said...

A good point well made. (As always!)

However, why do you let it be about the numbers. I use 4sq extensively, only as a record of where I've been. Just creates a 'memory' of events.

Out here the US, it is widely used for the purpose it was built. That of 'real' people visiting places and sharing their 'real' opinions. A foodie joint may have rave reviews in review sites like tripadvisor or However these are often dated. What apps such as 4sq do is they allow for (when used by people) 'real-time' updates. "service very poor today". "Tried the new item just added. It was awesome/horrible/okay-ish" .

In that sense better than Twitter as your 'network' who can answer your question about something is really the folks that follow you actively and those that are on twitter at that specific time.

Further, from my experience, the places I visit, throws up a whole new layer of 'network' of like-minded folks, but in this case, 'real' people not 'usernames'. I have made a couple of acquaintances off 4sq.

And since we are indian, we're always looking out for deals. Another aspect of 4sq which is growing fast is the marketing potential. Establishments will tempt with freebies just so that your business comes to them. Eg: A Gas(Petrol) station chain here, offers a free hot snack, just for showing a 4sq checkin. Cant be bad. Fill up the car around lunchtime, you're on a #win.

All in all, like any social network, the choice is ours on what extent of 'seriousness' we afford it. For me, it has never been numbers. Someone else is a mayor of any place..whoop dee doo for them!

jamesreegan said...

u r the major of our hearts...
and i doubt anyone can replace u there !

Lalit Chowdhary said...

You need a Klout score.