I’ve decided to stop using Instagram. It only just occurred to me that maybe I don’t want people to see where I am and who I’m with at that exact moment. There are lots of other things you can use Instagram for, of course, and I can always take those photos and ‘gram ‘em later, but that loses the whole “Insta” part of it.
Why am I giving it up? I’ve gone through my feed and I see some friends and acquaintances who are not only taking a photo of where they are but have also “checked in,” and described their exact place within that location (like, “Partying at [cool club here] in the back room, like rockstars!”) One day I thought, “Wow, this has the potential to be really dangerous.” Then I thought about how when I’ve gone on vacation I’ve posted my vacation pics on Instagram, too. It’s almost like I’m saying, “I’m not home right now, I am clearly across the country at the moment, feel free to rob my apartment and steal my car.”
There’s even a website created on that very subject. Please Rob Me, which aims to “rais[e] awareness about over-sharing.” You can enter your Twitter username to see if people can see your check-ins. It’s not anything new; the website was founded about two years ago. But it was before the age of Instagram. On Instagram (and sites like Foursquare, too), you’re letting people know exactly where you are without having to even say anything.
I think when we’re young and happy we feel like we’re invincible. Who’s really going to take the time to find out where I am and rob or harm me? What are the odds of actually being murdered when meeting someone on OKCupid or Craiglist? Who the hell would check my Facebook to see what I’m up to and use that to hurt me? I don’t know. Maybe the person who murdered rapper Lil JoJo just hours after he tweeted what he was doing with his location? The fear even affects “Twilight” stars: Kristin Stewart said in an interview, “I’m going to die because somebody is going to say where I am and somebody is going to kill me. Someone’s going to Twitter my location and it’s going to be, like, boom.”
Okay, but I’m not famous so I’m fine, right? Do you have an abusive, jealous ex? Like this woman who was stabbed by her ex after he saw her Facebook photos of her with a new boyfriend?
None of this is Instagram’s fault, per se. But, if you’re mentally unstable and dangerous, Instagram is a perfect stalking tool. Yes, I know that some don’t even use it as a social function by keeping their account locked. And you may think I’m a big ol’ curmudgeon and maybe even completely ridiculous for being “afraid” of using Instagram and trying to be a buzzkill for those who do. Really, I’m not. If you want to keep using Instagram, go for it. I was obsessed with it. But I think from now on I’ll just switch to bringing an actual crappy camera with me when I go out. I blog a lot about my life, but I never reveal my coordinates. And when I realized that by using Instagram, and it to my Facebook account, it was like I was blogging in real time. And that’s not a door I’m comfortable opening.