Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

Location Not Found

Sharing your location has never been a more contested issue. It is much easier to track your friends, family members and partners. Our phones all have built-in radars for the people in our lives and they occur without any notice. This is quite the controversial issue. There are some benefits when it comes to sharing your own location. However, these benefits can be quickly abused, that’s what makes it such a controversial issue.

My intrigue into this topic was initially sparked when my friend brought up my location. It was a random topic but I wanted to know why my location was so important to know. Just like other university students who do not live at home, I make regular visits back home, to visit family and spend time with them whenever I get the chance. Yes, I also get my laundry done and have homemade food because I am simply average at cooking daal. Anyways, they pointed out how often they saw that I was at my family’s house over some weekends form my Snapchat location.

I am quite ambivalent about my location being visible on the app. Many of my contacts will only look at it out of curiosity, but they never comment on it, and I would never expect them to. It felt bizarre to be confronted with the fact that someone would be tracking my whereabouts. I never saw the fascination surrounding my location. I am either at my own place, university, a library, a coffeeshop or the gym. My life is pretty mundane. If you need to know where I am, you can just ask me, but I still make my location available. I still have no clue as to why. 

Although I hold no reason as to why I still have my location openly available to friends, I reserve opinions on who should be able to see your location nonetheless. In my own family, the majority of us work in different locations, and half of us are commuting from school, university or work at the same time. We use it to make sure everyone makes it home safely or to get an idea of when to pick someone up from the station. It is common to have each other on Find My Friends. If one of us is not at the station or at home by the time we said we would be, then it’s assuring, it also helps me to know when I need to put on the dinner for them. These sharing tools come with boundaries and we have to be honest in our conversations about it. It is all about using it for emergency purposes. You do not need need to check another person’s location regularly.

Then I found myself alongside others sitting and listening to a couple argue about the potential for infidelity. They discussed location sharing. He gave full access for her to view his location as a way of showing his trustworthiness, since trust issues were there from day one, something our friends did not need to know. She trusted him on the basis that he shared his location. I thought to myself that surely you can strengthen that trust without needing to share your location. There are downsides to sharing your location with relationships.

Photo by Marc Kleen on Unsplash

Based off popular consensus there are concerns about obsessive behaviour. I have witnessed this firsthand, whereby a couple have entered a fierce argument, then one of them physically tracks them down since they are not responding to their messages or calls. He had abused her desire for space and time by forcing a conversation and reconciliation. The desire of sharing locations can therefore indicate fundamental problems with the lack of trust and desire for control. After witnessing friends do this in their own relationships, it is clear that it hurts both parties, and that their location sharing can cause tension. 

She turned the location tracking off, witnessing his loss of increased control was not pretty, he was standing outside her house and walking near it repeatedly without purpose. Of course, that relationship is a unique case on its own, but other couples have also highlighted that turning off the location makes their significant other go a little crazy. The general consensus is that there must be a bad reason for them to turn off their location. An individual went as far as to say that the need to follow your partner’s location suggests there are larger problems in the relationship. 

Others feel that they have nothing to hide. Another couple have argued that they do not consider it to be good for building trust. For them, location sharing feels like a game of trust and it is not one they wish to play, since that is not love. Some urge against location sharing as you may get the urge to check the location app regularly. It causes problems when you find your partner, even your friend, in a location other than where they say they are. Your location sharing can go either way it seems.

Should you share you location? There’s no correct answer. This technology is not inherently good or bad, but both partners must consent to share their location with each other, and they must effectively communicate how their locations should be used. If someone does not want to share their location with you, that is not a red flag, nor should it be one if someone asks you to share yours. The amount of information you want to share with your peers, your family and partners should be a conversation of why there is a need to look at another person’s location. For me location tracking should not inherently replace basic communication. Just because I know my older sister is on her way from work, doesn’t mean I don’t ask her what time her train will arrive from the station, or when she wants me to put the dinner on for her.

It’s okay if some of you want to share locations out of convenience for ETAs. It’s okay if you think location sharing is overstepping boundaries. I cannot say I am definitively on one side of this argument. For now, when you search for where I am, it’ll say ‘Location Not Found’.

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