It’s Friday night. 8 p.m. After scanning Facebook for last minute status updates from friends and scrolling through a nearly endless number of tweets, it’s time to figure out what to do around New York City. My iPhone lights up with an alert message. A friend has just checked in on Foursquare at the rooftop bar at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Another alert. Someone else is at a Sara Silverman book signing at the Barnes and Noble in Union Square. Alert. Party at the Hotel on Rivington. Alert. Drinks at Mason Dixon.
So many friendly recommendations. But, wait a minute. I’m a theatre reporter. Why haven’t I seen an alert telling me someone is seeing La Cage aux Folles or Hair? After all, Broadway has just experienced an onslaught of show openings and the Tony Awards are coming up. Yet, none of my Foursquare friends are checking in to a show tonight, which is the case mostly every night.
Since this year’s South By Southwest festival, it seems like every news outlet, both broadcast and print, has been latching onto Foursquare, a social networking tool that hipsters in New York City have been playing with their friends since it debuted in March of last year. A person could hardly consider themselves digital insiders, up until now, unless they were checking in to a location around town that was swarming with other in-the-know individuals.
There are Foursquare badges for checking in to a venue with photo booths (“photogenic”), being a frequent gym user (“gym rat”), and eating at 20 different pizza places (“pizzaiolo”). Bravo, Zagat, and the New York Times have all joined forces with the social networking company, awarding their own special badges to select users. Yet, at the time of writing this article, there is no Broadway badge.