How to avoid people using location-based social media

The hot thing at SXSW is location-based anything. (I’m so cool, I don’t even need to be there to know this.) But I’ll bet every single geek pushing a location-based app at SXSW is missing the point. You should sign up for location-based social media. So cool people can avoid you.

Here’s the deal – there are some people I’d rather not see. (Oh come on, don’t get all judgy. Like you’re happy to see every single person, every time you see them? Yeah, right). Some people always ask you for money. Maybe they repeat the word “dude” too often (that’s really annoying). Or they’re smelly. Or don’t wear shoes (I have this thing with shoes. Blame flylady.). Perhaps there was a drunken evening in a toilet stall you’d rather not be reminded of (don’t look at me, but if you’re blushing right now, well there you go).

These are people who you cross the street to avoid.

If an axe murderer checks in at Starbucks, best you go elsewhere for your mocha. (Pic credit: Flickr Creative Commons Jin.Thai).

Social media today gives everyone the ability to only ever run into people you like, and avoid all the weirdos. Yes, even if you’re at (Woodstock for geeks*) SXSW.

Location-based social media is the gift that rewards everyone. You can see where the people who will negatively effect your groove are at all times, and avoid them. And people who actually like those dodgy losers can find them.

It’s a win-win.

Real-world example right here

Over a year ago, I requested all mountain lions around the Boulder area get on Brightkite. It was a reasonable request. I just wanted to know where they were so they wouldn’t eat my kids, Brightkite is a local startup (ie, the mountain lions need to support local industry), and it would allow us all to avoid an awkward confrontation.

The old-school way of keeping track of mountain lions. Social media would be far more effective. (Pic credit: Flickr Creative Commons pst)

Well, none of the mountain lions took me up on it. Maybe they don’t follow me on Twitter. Anyway, I found it very disappointing. It was all about mutual respect. Live and let live. You lions do your thing and we’ll do ours, and if you let us know by checking in at North Boulder, maybe even with a cute pic of you with your cubs, then we’ll be aware you’re about to eat our terriers. Or kids.

But no, they didn’t do it. And so we had a spring and summer where little dogs were chewed, and the owners had no idea. That’s just disrespectful when Brightkite was right there, all free and stuff.

So the big takeaway is to get into location-based social media. It means I can avoid seeing you. Then everyone’s happy.

*This (apt) description of SXSW was originally coined by @nsquared but I pushed him for it. He’s a nice guy. Don’t go hatin’.


  • I’m totally giggling right now. Yesterday I deliberately avoided signing up to share my location on Twitter because it just feels creepy to me – a mix of inviting potential stalkers and self-aggrandizing (in the vein of “Elvis is in the building”).

    Great post.

  • I do remember when the web became socially focused, one of the biggest celebrations (sell-ebrations?) was that it got rid of a focus on geography. We are global, we are one (insert poxy singing). Yet here we are, refocusing ourselves on the geographic locations of everyone. The people that benefit the most from this is businesses and marketers. We’re already seeing far too much marketing effort on Twitter. Now it will go into overload. Mara, I love your thought about it being “self-aggrandizing.” FourSquare is exactly that, isn’t it?! I’m so awesome, I’m at…. and now I’m the mayor! Oh please. You’re not a real mayor. And even if you were, nobody really cares about a mayor. Don’t you get it? Thanks Mara! 🙂

  • I think I’m especially sensitive to it because I’m a travel blogger and there is a certain amount of macho posturing in that subculture. I live in the suburbs and do the best I can to have adventures with my kids, but I’ll never be able to compete with the people who are biking from Pole to Pole if you catch my drift.

  • Mara, that’s incredibly interesting. It’s what makes mom blogs so resonant with moms – we are all in similar situations, no matter our industries – and I guess with travel in particular you get thrown into a realm that others don’t appreciate. I know what you mean. I have had the same number of years in tech publishing as my husband (and more in higher education), yet have knocked back numerous opportunities to travel internationally because of family demands – yet he has never had to consider the demands of caring for the children at home while he goes to a conference, or pitches a client (because I’ve never made him). It is no different in the public sphere of blogging and content – you’re competing with anyone writing on your area in a niche field, no matter what their circumstance. However as a mom you have something that you either leverage or ignore – and leveraging it works for many. (I know, I do it with my accent here in the US ;)).

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