Have you checked-in on Foursquare yet? Or updated your status on Facebook today? Sent a tweet?


Then, welcome to the club! It’s the age of the Internet and the party’s just getting started.

A recent study by Forrester Research showed that 33% of the people surveyed claim to update their statuses on various social networks at least once a week. That’s one person out of every three.

Status updates are fast-becoming an important feature in the way we live. I bet nary a R.AGE reader passes a day without taking a quick scan of what’s on Twitter or what his/her Facebook friends are updating.

With mobile phones these days becoming practically mobile computers, the status-updating culture has gotten a lot more spontaneous and frequent. And no worries if your phone is still a ”basic” device. Telecommunications operators these days have plans that help you receive and update statuses via SMS.

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, your updates can also tell others your location. Automatically.

Grabbing a cup of coffee at your nearby Starbucks? Check in on Foursquare or Gowalla. Enjoying food at your favourite mamak stall? Add the location to your favourite service and check-in.

To keep users active, the services also include a system where users can compete to become ”Mayors” or ”Founders” of locations or complete certain tasks to gain badges. Check-in to five different locations on Foursquare and you’ll unlock the ”Crunked” badge, letting your friends know how ”adventurous” you are. Businesses are also encouraged to take part. Being the Mayor at Bre-werkz in Singapore, for example, nets you a 50% discount off some items.

With such explosive growth in usage and new services popping up online, we’re posting more information than ever online. And it’s becoming more spontaneous. Ten years ago, you’d have time to ruminate about that blogpost you’re posting. Today, it’s much easier to send a quick tweet before it passes through your grey matter.

Here’s the crunch, though. There’s a not-too-old adage that goes, ”What’s put on the Internet, stays on the Internet.”

Want to do a test? Google yourself and see what you find out.

If you’re really connected, you’ll find not just whatever you’ve tweeted or blogged about, but also where you’ve been, when you were there and what you did there.

”Friends” on foursquare, for example, get to see your entire history. They’ll know you got up at 8am today to go to the gym. Then you had breakfast at 9am and you get home around 7pm daily.

If you’ve been promiscuous in the way you ”friend” people, you might just be opening up yourself to a whole lot of trouble. Not to mention if you’ve linked up your Foursquare account with Twitter and authorised it to send public tweets of your updates.

So dire is this impending problem that some concerned folks setup, which, for a little while, showed a stream of Foursquare updates showing where people were at various times of day. The message was: It’s really, really easy to get some important information about you off the internet. Simply by subscribing to your Twitter feed, I can tell when you’re NOT at home, and plan daylight robbery.

Now, I don’t think anyone’s going to shut down their Facebook account just because of this bit of a trend. It’s too important to us today. It’s the way we connect with a bajillion friends with our meagre 24 hours a day.

But this warning should make us pause, and think: ”What are we sharing online?” ”With whom?”

I’ve made it a policy not to simply accept friends on Facebook or Foursquare. My policy is that I need to have already met you somewhere else before I accept you as a friend. But I’ve kept an open profile on Twitter and left my blog unlocked. I’m happy for strangers to read what I post there, but I make sure I’m comfortable with letting that information out to public FOREVER.

The world’s a-changing. Everything you’re doing online gets recorded. Strangers get to read your thoughts. And know when you’re out. All things considered, I’d say it’s probably worth putting a little more thought into what you post.

* David Lian is a geek and proud of it. After all, the geek always gets the girl in the end. Feel free to connect with him on Twitter or his blog.

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