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This Ain’t Your Rebbe’s Foursquare

We’ve all heard of Facebook, twitter, tumblr and MySpace. They are spoken about on a daily basis, are ingrained in our daily lives. But there’s something left out of this list, something that’s leaving the list incomplete, and I’m thinking you can already guess what it is. That’s right, Foursquare. It’s not just any other mobile app or time waster, it’s a portal into a whole new world of venues and exploration and if you use it in New York City, you’ll never know when it will come in handy.

Foursquare is an interactive, mobile application that allows you to “check-in” to places that you visit and provides you with suggestions for places you should check out. While you take advantage of all of its tips and suggestions, you can easily compete with your friends with a point-based system depending on where and when you check-in and how often you check-in to those places. Arye Fohrman, a senior at Yeshiva College, explains, “at times, it becomes sort of an obsession to check-in to all of the different spots on campus that I visit, but that’s just the price I pay for wanting to be the Mayor of all those places.”

Now, I bet you are wondering what a “Mayor” is. The mayor is the person that checks-in the most to a specific venue. Being a “Mayor” comes with some awesome privileges. For example, the “Mayor” can receive a free slice of pizza at their local pizza shop, or a free beer at their favorite Irish pub. In addition to special privileges for mayors, you can also earn "specials" depending on the places you check-in. For example, Chop Chop Chinese Restaurant in Washington Heights, has a current special that says “Spend $5, get $5 off”. David Bodner, a junior at Yeshiva College, recounts the time he used a foursquare check-in to get a freebie at “Karaoke 35”, “I really wanted to sing a song, but didn’t want to pay the $4 charge. Then I remembered that I forgot to check-in through foursquare and I was ecstatic to see that I get a free karaoke song with every check-in!”

In addition to the high number of specials or wares you can receive for mayorship, Foursquare is also a great platform for discovering your surroundings. Included in the Foursquare app are an “Explore” as well as a “Lists” tab. The “Explore” tab gives you recommended venues to visit around your location that match places you have checked-in to in the past. For instance, if you have checked-in to a number of music stores, the explore tab might recommend a music store near you that you have yet to visit. The “Lists” tab, on the other hand, allows you to follow lists either created by your friends or recommended by Foursquare. When Hannah Rozenblat, a sophomore at SCW, was asked about the “Lists” feature of Foursquare, she answered, “Some of the lists I currently follow include, ‘NY Art & Museum Galleries’, ‘Jay-Z’s New York’ and ‘Least Known, but Most Rewarding Places in NYC’. I love lists because it gives me a bunch of places to visit within the same genre.”

One of the most interesting and entertaining features that Foursquare offers is the awarding of “badges” to users that check-in to different categories of establishments. “Badges” are little rewards you earn based on your check-in habits. You can win “badges” for a whole variety of reasons including checking-in after 3 AM on a school night, or for holding ten mayorships at once. Arielle Blum, a senior at SCW, loves the badge feature of Foursquare. “I felt so excited when I got my first badge, the ‘Newbie’ badge, when I checked-in to Golan. It really made me want to get more and more badges. It wasn’t until I got the ‘Overshare’ badge, for over ten check-ins in under twelve hours, that I realized I might have a serious problem.”

Foursquare isn’t like any other social media application. With its points, mayorships, specials, and badges, it offers the user a whole new experience that promises positive outcomes. The popularity of Foursquare has begun to grow as it has spread overseas. With the ability to check-in to places from “Golan Heights”, right here on Amsterdam Avenue, to “Golan Heights, Israel” there doesn’t seem to be a reason why you shouldn’t get Foursquare. Hey, and best of all, it’s free!