(In case you don’t know what Foursquare is, it’s a location-based social network that is used primarily with other social-networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. A user “checks in” to a venue, sometimes providing a pithy comment, a photo, or a tip at the same time. If you check-in to a location often enough, you can become its “mayor,” which usually only affords bragging rights, but in some cases can result in special “mayoral” benefits from an Internet-savvy retailer.)
Some have dismissed Foursquare as another example of the ability of social-networking addicts to share too much of the minutiae of their lives, which can be true. Just as no one needs to know every time you retire to the bathroom on Twitter, neither does everyone need to know every time you stop for gas at the service station or pick up a value meal at McDonald’s. for my part, I only use Foursquare when I actually have something pithy to say. (If you’d still like to check-in, say to maintain your mayorship, without having anything to say, you can check-in without sending the notice to your Twitter or Facebook stream.) In any case, it can be another fun way to get to know your social-media friends and to share a little bit of yourself with people who live far from you.
But Foursquare can also be an opportunity to live out your Christian witness. Using the tools that Foursquare gives you, you can let your check-ins speak to others. For example, I’m the “mayor” of my parish, St. Joseph in Holbrook, MA. If you look at the page for my parish on Foursquare, you will see that I’ve made sure that all of the parish’s contact information is correct, including the address. I’ve also used the tips feature to leave information about the parish’s men’s group. And when we have special occasions at the parish, like the recent May crowning, I include a photo in my check-in.
Similarly, I check in to my workplace daily at the Archdiocese of Boston’s Pastoral Center in Braintree. On that venue page, I’ve made sure the address and phone number are correct as well as putting our Twitter page there. My tip for the Pastoral Center lists the time for daily Mass in our Bethany Chapel, inviting the public to attend and stay for lunch afterward in our cafeteria. I could also leave a tip to check out the small religious goods shop run by the Sister Servants of the Divine Master off the lobby. Or to make an appointment to do genealogical research in the archdiocesan Archives. Or something similar.
The point is that just by checking in on Foursquare, you can provide an invitation for the casual user, someone who may just be in the area or who follows you on Twitter or Foursquare or Facebook. to experience the prompting of the Holy Spirt. It’s certainly not the entirety of Christian witness (we should all be doing a lot more than that in our daily lives to share the Gospel with others), but it’s just one small way to do your part to make Christ present in life. Even in the social networking world on Foursquare, Facebook, and Twitter.