NEW YORK—Before I begin, I’d like to take a moment and thank everyone who sacrificed the time to meet me in this humble corner of the internet. Your support is unwavering, and I wish I had money to give you for it. You’re here today because I have a difficult announcement to make; one I’ve been turning over in my mind for some time now.
I will not be running for re-election for any of my recently squandered FourSquare mayorships.
You heard right. Not Oh25 Bubble Tea, not The Heritage on Fifth (or its unofficial counterpart, The Heritage), not even that bus stop in rural Pennsylvania that I’ve never actually been to. I’ve truly enjoyed my time at “the top” of some of our country’s most unimpressive landmarks, but it’s time for this chapter to close.
Now, losing “the throne” is nothing new to me. After all, while Mayor Bloomberg was given a bare minimum of four years to effect great change over the city, FourSquare mayors like me were given less than 24 hours. Waking up to notifications, emails, and even tweets announcing the end of my reign was, at one time, paralyzing. I wouldn’t eat. I wouldn’t sleep. I wouldn’t even go outside to maintain my digital chokehold on restaurants and bars in other parts of the city, a slippery slope. It was a dark time.
Recently, however, I discovered I no longer felt feelings on Foursquare. “Am I really that desensitized?” I asked myself for the purposes of this article. “Have these endless battles turned me into something not entirely human, a monster even?” The answer, of course, is no. I managed to write a stunningly emotional Father’s Day note a few weeks back. So, still very human.
You may have read my cohort Ross Sheingold’s piece on the new Foursquare last week. He pointed to the platform’s desire to turn into an exploratory engine that would fuel the discovery (or rediscovery) of one’s city. As a writer and traveler who spends each and every Sunday exploring Chinatown’s best restaurants for a weekly column of mine, this was music to my ears (folk music, if you were interested).
Best of all? It works, and it works well. Where once I mindlessly thumbed at my touch screen to check-in before reburying my phone in my pocket, I now actively use FoursSquare to find my next great restaurant, discover its menu, take recommendations from Foursquare pioneers who were there before me, and eventually leave my own tips with a link to my column. That’s local discovery at its best.
Following Foursquare’s big 5.0 updated, the act of checking in has become, for me, an afterthought of sorts. Sure, it’s nice to let others know where I am, and it’s great to create a permanent record of my experiences. And yeah, I guess it can be pretty exciting to steal the mayorship at your favorite Dunkin Donuts location, knowing the guy you dethroned will cringe when he finds out.
But the real utility of Foursquare 5.0 is its ability to help users discover new worlds, not conquer them. David Livingstone would be proud.