Tracking your every move

I don’t get the whole appeal of location-based apps and ads. I mean, yes, I get that it would make things convenient if my phone could recommend restaurants I was passing by, or a notify me about a special Frappaccino discount at the next Starbucks I was about to hit. When I was single, traipsing around San Francisco in my 20’s, it would have been nice to know where friends were to meet out at a moments notice. But it seems people are just fine with telling the entire free world what they are doing and where they are at every single moment in time.

Am I a luddite? Maybe. I’ve never been an early adopter. But it’s only a few short steps from location-based apps to sinister government tracking devices and I’m not sure I can get on board with that (although they probably know our every move anyway already, given GPS in our phones).  OK, I know, too melodramatic, but on a lesser scale, sometimes you don’t want any powers-that-be – be it your boss, your clients or your mother – to know where you are. How many times have you played hooky from work to take a “mental health day” or told your husband you were one place when you were secretly buying his Christmas present across town?  I revel in my freedom – after all, I fought for it tooth and nail when I was a teen. Why would I give it up as an adult?

I remember living in San Francisco when wi-fi came out at AT&T Park.  People were psyched: you could skip work to go to the afternoon Giants game AND still be productive.  But now, they’d know you were not “working from home.”

Don’t get me wrong. I support targeted marketing. I believe that the better a company targets it’s ads, the less crap I have to wade through that doesn’t apply to me.  There are probably ways to notify advertisers of your location, but not broadcast it to the people in your life, and maybe that’s not so bad. It’s better than telling criminals the best time to go rob my house because I’m in another state.

I’m struck by two film images whenever this topic comes up: one, Minority Report, when Tom Cruise races past a billboard and it knows who he is.  And, two, Wall-E, where we are introduced to a future society of obese humans zooming around on electric Lazy Boys, with their heads stuck in an audio/visual device – thus, inhibiting any interaction they may have with their real fellow human beings. OK, the latter is more about our techno-dependence these days, and I already know the former scenario exists anyway.

Still. I refuse to turn on Facebook Places and the like. I’m holding on tight to the ability to take a day off when I need a break  – without anyone being the wiser.

Do you use location tracking apps or have you benefitted from location-based marketing? Please share your story in the Comments.

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