My favorite app is Find My Friends. If you do not know what this is, it’s an app that lets you share your location at all times with fellow iPhone havers. I have access to the locations of nineteen friends and they have access to mine. I also have two friends, both named Nick, who refuse to share their locations with anyone—but I have given mine to both of them out of loyalty, just because I like the idea that they know where I am. I like looking at the map of New York, seeing little bubbles with my friends’ initials pop up in the usual and the surprising places. Sara is at the office. Graham is at home. Ben is at the bar where he does trivia. This guy I met at a concert is in the East Village—who knows why he’s there? I realize this sounds really boring, and it is. But I love knowing where my friends are—that they’re exactly where they belong, or that they aren’t. Of course there are practical uses: there’s the chance you might be around the corner from someone, both at different bars, and have a serendipitous meetup. But I check Find My Friends constantly and impractically, as a little way of knowing where my friends are at any given time. I guess it makes me feel close to them in a stupid technology way, but I feel close to a lot of people in stupid technology ways. That’s why I spend so much time texting.
The best times to look are of course nights and mornings, especially on weekends. There’s a chance you might see that someone didn’t sleep at home! It would be indiscreet to mention this to them, or at least I never would, but it’s a fun little secret in your phone. I understand why many people think this is weird and creepy, but I am not one of them. Someone above the age of forty asked me recently how anyone in my generation has affairs, if we all know where others are at any given time. I told him I wasn’t really trying to have an affair. It was a good question, though, and maybe one day someone will put a location-sharing plot in a not-very-good novel: a man idly looking at Find My Friends only to discover that his wife is not where she said she would be. The house of cards that is life comes tumbling down, et cetera. That would probably be too tedious to put into a book, but it would happen in real life and it probably already has, possibly thousands of times. I will take my chances and try to avoid affairs.
The other night I met someone who asked for my number and immediately shared his location with me, indefinitely. I thought this was very funny and I shared mine back. We parted ways, and we might never see each other again. I just checked his location. Now he’s in Vienna! Life is full of surprises!
Sophie Haigney is the web editor of The Paris Review.
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