Smartphones have become our everyday companions, our modern compass, thanks to the real-time geolocation they offer. Today, you don't need to unfold a road map to find your way.
And yet, as we have become increasingly dependent on Google Maps to guide us through cities and along freeways, we have abandoned our sense of direction. That's the price we pay for technological progress: it makes our lives easier, but there's always a downside.
The ability to communicate instantly with distant people, or to visualize an entire city with your position within it from an aerial view, sounds like a superpower. However, while these abilities may seem innocent or entirely beneficial, they have impacts, often overlooked, on our lives – and especially on our social lives, as their effects are subtle and gradual.
FOMO, a disease of the digital society
FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), the anxiety of missing something important, has become a modern plague fueled by our digital platforms. When it comes to sharing your location, the benefits are obvious: if you're at a crowded event where it's easy to get lost, you can instantly indicate where you are. Or if you're unfamiliar with a city and have an appointment in a crowded place.
But sharing your location all the time with even your closest contacts raises a series of moral and ethical dilemmas that generate specific problems. So it's important to think about how these technologies might affect our human relationships, especially our closest ones, if they were to become fully integrated into our daily lives.
Sharing your location: a double-edged sword
“When sharing your location with a friend, it's important to remember that human beings don't always have good intentions.”
These tools are very useful, for example, for women who are on a date with a stranger or undertaking a solo trip. They also give parents peace of mind when their teenagers start going out. Your cell phone always asks for permission to share your location or data in an application. But what happens when this authorization is permanent or taken for granted, and the people concerned don't even question it anymore, because they've internalized the fact that their location is public for their networks?
The risks of permanent surveillance
These days, we're constantly reminded by security forces to be careful when sharing on our social networks that we're on vacation or out and about. We should ask ourselves what's going on and returned to the original conversation.
Constant geolocation can have unexpected consequences on our social relationships. For example, imagine you cancel an appointment with a friend under the pretext of studying for an exam. If this friend has access to your location, he could quickly check whether you're at home or at the library. Such transparency can generate social pressure and misunderstandings.
My name is Maggie and I'm a writer for thesilverink.com, a website dedicated to news, culture and lifestyle. I have always been passionate about writing and I decided to make it my profession by becoming a web editor. I work on counterpoint.info and I mainly take care of the lifestyle section. I like to share my discoveries and my favorites with the readers, whether it's about fashion, beauty, decoration or gastronomy.