Wednesday, September 8, 2010

You Can Check In Anytime You Like...

Many people have decried the newest Facebook feature, known as Check In. So now, The Chipper Muse must weigh in and set everything into the proper perspective.

To those who haven’t heard (you know who you are!), Check In allows Facebook to use GPS technology to check you into the locations you visit. If you’re not much of a techie, just think of it as Facebook’s version of tagging you like wildlife. Check In enables you to ensure that your Facebook friends and family will know where you are at all times. At. All. Times. Who wouldn’t want that?

For people who think everyone cares how much coffee they pound at Starbucks each day, Check In is a dream come true. But for others, Check In seems like a Big Brother feature, a way of keeping track of your movements, a violation of your privacy. The debate rages under the shadow of Facebook’s many questionable policies.

Personally, I think the controversy is overrated. Check In has many advantages that far outweigh the nuisance of feeling like you’re a criminal with a tracker strapped to your ankle (and it’s a lot lighter too). Let me point out the most obvious reasons to use Check In:

1. Check In is a perfect tool for one-upping other people.
Sure, the next time you go to a truly exclusive event, like Chelsea Clinton’s wedding or Lindsay Lohan’s next hearing, you can kick it old-school and rub it in your friends’ noses by sticking out your tongue, saying Nyeh-Nyeh-Nyeh, and laughing mockingly. Or you can join the 21st century and lord it over people the way it is meant to be done in the Internet age—online and publicly accessible to people in other states, countries, and time zones. Now that’s what I call an e-diss.

 picture this use of Check In to blow up big time, especially after pro football season gets off the ground. Instead of goofy, old-fashioned dancing, you can expect to see wide receivers pull out their phones and “check in” at the other team’s end zone. By the Super Bowl, pedestrian put-downs and childish humiliations will finally be a thing of the past.

2. Check In raises peer pressure to new heights.
If you have an injured ego or low self-esteem, and if you’ve been longing for a new way to try to earn ineffectual brownie points with people who will never respect you, this is your answer. Check In will work especially well for school-aged kids who love to be bullied. Just check in wherever the “cool” people tell you to go. Check in at the big party hosted by people you hate, in order to prove you were cool enough to go. Extra points for everyone involved if the cool people publicly humiliate you while you are checked in at their hangout.

If you belong to a team or any kind of group that demands you behave exactly like everyone else to fit in, you’ll love Check In. I know lots of people who are already using this feature to check in to church, because as we all know, there’s no better way to be like Jesus than to draw attention to ourselves and point out how spiritual we are. The only thing that could possibly be better is to look at the Facebook pages of all our friends, find out who didn’t check in to church, and then criticize them. Thank goodness, Check In makes that possible.

3. Check In is an effective electronic way to lie.
Let this idea sink in for a moment. I think you’ll love its implications. After all, who is to say that you weren’t at work or in class when you checked in there? Just check in as you pull in the parking lot, then wheel right around and take off without checking out.

Unfortunately, Check In is empowered right now by actual GPS locations, which means you have to show up at the place you’re supposed to be, even if it’s just for a moment. That’s risky. But with some creative hacking, the GPS tracking could easily be disconnected. Imagine how free you’d be then. No need to show up at the actual location to give yourself an alibi. Just use the hack to fake check in at a busy Starbucks on the north side of town, while you’re actually doing whatever you want to do on the south side of town. It’s brilliant.

4. Check In benefits everyone, not just you.
If Check In were simply a self-serving feature, I could understand all the whining about “privacy.” But Check In is a great way for you to reach out and touch your entire community.

Admit it. You hear plenty of statistics on the news, but what you really want is to become a statistic. That’s where this Facebook feature comes in handy. Just check in at your vacation spot, and your neighborhood theft ring will be better able to plan a little B&E. They can plug Facebook into their Google calendar for even greater convenience. Think of how many hungry criminals and their families (and their drug dealers) you can feed in a week, just by using Check In. Probably at least as many people as you could feed by giving regularly to Feed the Children. What a great way to pay it forward to people in need!
Naturally, the Check In feature demands a follow-up. I’m certain Facebook is working on it as you read this. It will be called Check Out, and you will be able to use it anytime you want to turn your brain off and let other people do your thinking for you. It’ll be an app for your smartphone, and you can download it while you’re driving in heavy traffic, so no worries. I’ll make sure to write a review of it as soon as it’s available for testing.

In the meantime, don’t worry about the privacy debate. Just do what Facebook says. They’re taking over the Internet anyway. Resistance is futile.

~Ciao for now!~
The Chipper Muse

Copyright © 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

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