Checking in on Foursquare or Facebook isn’t quite the rage it once was, but is still somewhat popular.
I still advise my clients to make sure they have their check-in accounts set up properly, and I encourage some to be more active in encouraging people to check in by offering various types of rewards. According to Pew, more than 18 percent of all smartphone users used check-in apps in 2012, up from 12 percent the previous year. That really is quite a lot; this year there are about 33 million people using Foursquare alone.
In the end, it’s up to the users to determine whether they see any value—either in rewards or just the gaming aspect of it—in checking in to various places of business. For some, it’s just a matter of keeping a record of what they are doing and where they have been.
Check-ins aren’t confined to physical places. With GetGlue you can check in to television shows, movies, and sporting events. With Untapped you can “check in” to whatever beer you are drinking at the time. But clearly, there might be times you might not want to check in to certain things on those apps. For instance, you might not want to admit to the Untapped crowd that you are hoisting an Old Milwaukee, and it might be embarrassing to admit you’re watching certain TV shows or movies.
For actual locations, some are best left unidentified. Here are five places where you might want to pocket your smartphone and avoid the embarrassment of telling the world where you are:
1. Funeral homes
It’s a bit tacky if you’re checking in at Uncle Andy’s wake—even more so if you’ve checked in enough to be Mayor of the place. Of course, if you’ve checked in that frequently, it probably means you’re at the age where more of your friends are dead than alive. There’s also that final check-in, the one where you don’t check out.
2. Adult book store
We have two adult book stores a few blocks from each other in downtown Lancaster. I rarely see anyone going in or out of either of them, but when I do, they’re always looking around and lowering their heads for the purpose of not being seen. They don’t want friends, co-workers, or family members knowing where they are going. If that’s the case, you probably don’t want to check in online and tell the world.
If people see you checking in at the local prison, there’s a good chance they won’t expect to see you checking in anywhere else anytime soon—at least for another five to 10. Just let them think that you’ve “gone on an extended vacation” somewhere. You know, rafting on the river rather than up the river.
4. Hair Club for Men
This actually goes for any sort of place where you’re getting any sort of “work” done, from body enhancements and tummy tucks to a new head of hair. Better to let them be surprised when they see you, rather than giving them a heads-up beforehand. Subtlety is probably your best bet in these cases. If they’re gonna snicker and whisper, let them do it when you’re around, rather than before they see the finished “product.”
5. Unemployment office
It’s one thing for people to know you’re out of work; it’s a whole other thing to keep reminding them online. Again, becoming Mayor of the unemployment office as a result of being there too often might send the wrong message. Your goal is to get a job, not look as though you are completely unemployable.
Ken Mueller is the proprietor of Inkling Media, where a version of this article originally appeared.