04
Aug
10

To be Four and square!


I joined Foursquare a while ago and started fiddling around with it. Then, one day, it struck me; that’s one hell of image-building tool.

When I say image-building, I do not say good or bad. All I say is that by publicizing your whereabouts, people can start slowly profiling your personality. Elements like “when” you get to work, when you leave work; what time you go out at night, and what time you get back home (if you do…).

Our self-branding is conditioned today not by who we are. In the digital realm, very few people of our virtual entourage know who we really are… (Yes, I am talking to you Mr. 55 years old who pretends he still is in high-school) What counts in the digital reality is what we do and how we do it. Real or fake, our online behavior is the embodiment of our personality. Don’t you just love those Facebook status updates like “Off to France tonight”. The poor guy is traveling coach to a presentation in the suburbs of the French capital, staying in a 2 stars Auberge for one night and flying back home the next morning! But hey, who cares? He never said that! All he said was “Off to France tonight”; and everyone thought -with jealousy that he’s going to Cannes for the awards!

When I started with Foursquare, I noticed that most of my check-ins where home and work… Yeah, yeah, pathetic I know. And that’s when I saw the light and heard the Wagner music… People will think one thing: Pathetic!

I humbly know that I am slightly above pathetic and working hard on it, and I did not want to be perceived wrongly via a small app on my iPhone! (yes, I do have an iPhone and that’s why I said “slightly” above pathetic!) I later realized that I can check-in at virtually every location I head to and started making things better! Now I am getting more and more friends requests on Foursquare and my virtual self-esteem starts to measure in megabytes instead of bytes! I am even a Mayor of two locations…

What? Which locations? Damn! Ok, it’s my office and… my mom’s home. Happy?!

Another amazing fact is how the integration of social media and location-aware tools is helping people build more accurate profiles of each other. However hard we try, we can  never be fully consistent across all the social mediums we use. We reveal different bits and pieces of ourselves every time we post something. Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare etc. force us to behave differently, to display hybrid aspects of our persona, sometimes even clashing ones. On Facebook, you see yourself interacting more intimately with your friends, while on Twitter things could get a little more public and, there you try to retain a more composed attitude especially if you’re a business tweeter. On Foursquare, we get the feeling that the location-aware tool is more tailored for the outings rather than the whereabouts. You want to publicize more going to Gemmayzeh for the evening (and the night) than going home or work or a meeting (like miserable me).

Is that good? I guess it is. It’s like asking if it’s good to spend more time on a computer. 10 years ago, the answer would have been yes, but today? What else can you do? Computers run our lives. Hell! They are our lives (aaaah shut up you “go out and live” advocates!); so are social media. Retrospectively, you can notice how important the impact of Facebook was and still is on your life. Twitter helped connecting me to wonderful people it would have taken me a lifetime to meet otherwise. Thanks to Twitter, I know more about my business, I discover things, insights. It’s pure revelation.

Facebook kept me in touch with my favorite universe, my students. It’s like watching your own children grow. You see them find a job, get engaged, get married (morons!). It’s beautiful! (well until you get to the married part 😉

Them came Foursquare! They used to know what I feel and what I do. Now they know where I am. I guess the loop is closed. We live in the Matrix! I am not going to strategize on whether it’s good or bad. But, since we’re there, let’s make the best of it!

So go, update your status now and tell people a nice white lie and get that ego off the ground for the rest of the day.

Throw some nice tweet (from your cellphone, it’s cooler) and enlighten everyone with an insight about your job.

And while doing all the above, tell us where you’re doing it from (No toilets please).

The biggest revelation of the digital universe is the fact that we call it a “Universe”.

© 2010 Ibrahim Lahoud

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2 Responses to “To be Four and square!”


  1. August 4, 2010 at 14:01

    Amazing…and very interesting…

  2. August 4, 2010 at 16:13

    Ok, I have to say I don’t agree with you on this one! I happen to think it’s quite (don’t take this the wrong way now), pathetic to check in everywhere you go! Foursquare is one of the few social media tools I have not embraced, and likely never will. I don’t want everyone, their mother, and their grandmother to know where I work, where I live, where I hang out..

    Like you, I use facebook to keep in touch with my students (joke..) my family and friends back home..but very rarely do I post any status updates..unless I think I have something highly interesting to share, or unless I want to give a shout out to my 13 year old brother for coming in first place at his swimming meet..

    Twitter is where I get my news..where I learn what’s happening both in Lebanon and abroad, where I learn of the latest trends..

    I don’t like social media to follow me everywhere, computers don’t run my life..and I think I’m doing just fine.. As if I don’t publish enough information about myself..marketers need to know where I exercise, live, work, hang out, party? Nah..I think I’ll pass on this one..


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Reason To Believe by Ibrahim N. Lahoud is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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