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December 02, 2011

TMI or Life Saver?

HospitalI learned last week that too much information from tech can be a bad thing.

Apple last month released the “Find My Friends” feature on iPhones.  This featrure allows users to view the current locations of other users — who agree — on a map. While sold as a way to track and meet up with friends, I am guessing that the feature is most popular with families. 

Predictably, last month stories started to appear that one of the great uses for “Find My Friends” is the discovery of cheating spouses. One person posted on a web site that he had used the feature to discover that his wife was with another man when she had claimed that she was at a friend’s house in another part of town. 

One commentator noted:

I am sure at this very moment that John Grisham is calling his agent and musing about a new novel — set somewhere in Mississippi — where the plot will turn on the cheery new functions of an iPhone 4S. The plot will, no doubt, turn on whether planning such a ruse would constitute admissible evidence. . . .

Quite soon, I feel sure that happy couples will be making their promises at the front of churches and include this wording: "Till death do us part. Or till I discover that my sleazy little spouse has been secretly following my movements with an adorable little Apple app.

An author in Forbes took a more ominous view of the technology:

Will being given technology tools that make law-enforcement-style surveillance so easy a baby could do it transform us (more than Facebook already has) into a society of spies? Just as we expect everyone to have a Facebook account, perhaps we’ll start expecting everyone to volunteer their whereabouts at all times, as part of the “social OS.” If a friend (or a spouse) chooses NOT to be tracked, will we assume they are up to no good?

My own story is less exciting. We use “Find My Friends” and have found it useful for much more mundane purposes, such as calculating when someone on the road will be home from work. Earlier this week, I was picking up the kids because my wife had an appointment in another city. I called my wife but she did not answer, so I checked where she was on Find My Friends.  To my shock, her location was at the local hospital. I checked again, got the same result, and did a quick U-Turn to head to the hospital.

Then story has a happy ending — she had stopped at a jewelry sale by the hospital auxiliary.  But for about 10 minutes I was panicked and worried.

The moral of the story is obvious.  At the risk of sounding like Andy Rooney, maybe sometimes we really were better off before we had all of this technology.



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