Two days ago, in The New York Times, there was an article titled “I Love You, Let’s Stalk Each Other.” It was all about young people using the iPhone app Find My Friends to, basically, stalk each other. Ick. (Double ick for splitting that infinitive.) There wasn’t much in the story to make me feel all warm and fuzzy. Quite the contrary.
Nevertheless, on my android phone (I opted for android because that’s what my son has), I do share my location 24/7 with nearby family members. If that allows them to “stalk” me, so be it. But I consider it a safety measure. I’m old and I live alone. I’m usually at home, but on those occasions when I’m not, it’s reassuring to know they know where I am. It’s kind of like when I was a teen telling my parents where I was going and when I expected to be back. All in the interests of safety. Similarly, when you go hiking, you tell someone what trail you’ll be on, your destination, and when you expect to be back. (Or at least leave a note on the windshield of your car at the trailhead.)
In return, the family members share their locations with me. I suppose one might say I stalk them, but for me it’s reassuring to be able to look at a map and see that they are nearby, or that they arrived safely at their destination when they travel out of town. And they humor me by doing it. I do not abuse the privilege by questioning their travels or destinations or times spent away from home. (“Why were you there? What were you doing?”)
If location sharing amounts to stalking, then I suppose we are stalking. But we certainly aren’t behaving like the kids in the article who text each other at all hours saying things like “I know you are at the theater. Why are you there without me?” Or maybe even “Why are you there with Janice instead of me?” Or “You guys having a party and didn’t invite me?” (Okay, so maybe nobody says “you guys” anymore …)
Modern technology. So useful or so invasive. It all depends on how it’s used and by whom.