who gets to see your location?
welcome to New Rules, an all-new column by mixed feelings, which highlights the strong opinions and social mores of New York denizens. It's modern etiquette, according to the most tapped in among us. Have a question you want them to answer? Comment below or DM us on Instagram.
At the risk of sounding musty, one of my strongest assertions as an aging millennial is this: Teenagers today are the coolest teenagers this world has ever seen.
This is not to say that they are infallible — we all have our generational pitfalls — but they are pretty undeniably some of the most inclusive, thoughtful, and, dare I say, radical people I have had the pleasure of meeting.
When thinking of a way to feature great teenage minds on mixed feelings, it became obvious that we should ask about what rules have been socially codified — or not — by the generation that grew up with technology in hand. (Like, real technology, not dial-up). So, meet New Rules! Remember, though, no one is a monolith, and everyone is entitled to their feelings. Be nice, be chill, and enjoy the wisdom of the future generation.
First up: should friends and partners share locations with each other? — Amalie MacGowan, deputy editor @
Life360, Snap Maps, Find My iPhone and all location sharing apps…nosey people like me love these. I share my location with all my closest friends, and I share it with my immediate family, too. And for all the other nosey people reading up on this topic — yes, I have shared it with my past partners, as well.
It’s worth mentioning that I’m a high school senior. Some of the reasons why my friends and I share locations with each other are to know: "Oh, are they at school yet", "Did they leave early" and "Where's everyone after school?. But from a teenager's point of view, there are so many reasons to share locations with people you trust. There will always be the classic first date reason, (I always have to make sure my girls are safe), but the main reason why I’m quick to share with my closest friends is because these are the people I see every day. I’m always with them, or will be looking for a reason to be with them. So it doesn’t hurt to know where they are, and vice versa. It's a sort of friend milestone you build up to.
In terms of sharing with a partner, I might have a young and naïve take on it because I haven’t had any bad experiences yet, but I think sharing locations with someone you’re dating is a perfectly normal thing. Because location sharing is such a casual thing to me, I feel like the person I’m most intimate with should be seeing it, too, right? It should have nothing to do with jealousy or suspicion, but should be shared for the same reasons I would share with friends. I'm not saying share it right after the first date — I always let it happen organically.
Of course, there are some big notes to remember: In a friend's case, if you're questioned on why they're able to see your location 24/7, or why they would need to, just know, if they don't get it, they just don't get it. And they don't deserve to see it. Now in a partner's case, if you work up to the comfort level of sharing locations and they're hesitant, I have to say: something’s fishy babes. — Isabella Ramos, 18 (she/her)
I definitely fall far from being “Ms. Mysterious,” but even as someone who’s pretty open with those in my close circles, there is a certain level of privacy (and social battery) I strive to protect and maintain. Location sharing has the potential to obliterate both of those things.
In my freshman year of high school, I started getting close with a girl from my neighborhood. I quickly observed that she had her Snap Maps on — which is your location on Snapchat — always. Even though we felt close, I thought that giving anyone I had added on Snapchat easy and constant access to my location seemed uncomfortable. She started to ask to hang out very frequently — more than I wanted to — and I realized that if I had my own location visible, I wouldn’t be able to get out of hanging out without offending her. Beyond the location sharing piece, she became increasingly overwhelming and demanding, and after a few weeks of getting to know her I didn’t want to hang out at all.
Had she turned into my favorite human, though, I still wouldn’t have wanted to put all of my at-home “me time” on the line to hang out whenever she asked. Not everyone understands when your social battery is tapped, and trying to explain is exhausting. In the case of said ninth-grade friend, I started becoming aloof, coming up with creative excuses in order to distance myself. Then Covid hit, and I was saved by the quarantine bell.
I can only imagine that kind of issue popping up with a partner. Sharing locations could enable a seriously possessive and obsessive tracking habit on either side, and is a 100% no-go for me. I’ve never perceived myself as someone prone to jealousy or distrust, but anyone could develop those feelings from any slight insecurity. On something like Snap Maps, when they can see who you are around, this could become a scary unhealthy monitoring of the other person's whereabouts and breed all kinds of suspicions and trust issues.
I don't see many benefits to location sharing aside from a temporary share for genuine safety reasons. If I went to a music festival or some overpopulated and high energy party — a generally unpredictable setting — I could see myself exchanging location access with my roommates or whoever I’m going with, just so we don't lose each other. Aside from that… I’ll pass! — Clementine Gotlib, 17 (she/her)
One day, my friends and I decided to “stalk” each other. We all downloaded Life360, the family tracking app, and watched each other travel home from school. We sent each other creepy texts as a joke, saying, “I know where you live” or “I saw you were at the deli ;)”.
It started out as a fun game. But after a couple of days of keeping tabs on each other, “stalking” became a way for us to ensure that we were all arriving home safely. We live in New York City, which means that crazy things can happen. Whenever I felt unsafe while taking the bus or train, I had a sense of security knowing that people who I trust were watching over me. It was like having guardian angels.
However, I have criteria for who I share my location with and for how long. I only share with close friends who do not pressure me to have it on at all times. Some friends who I shared locations with in the past began to interrogate me whenever I turned it off. I felt uncomfortable with their insistence. That is when I realized that some of my friends might use this feature for the wrong reasons, or it might prey on their insecurities. Even when I share my location with people I trust, it’s typically a temporary ordeal. I’m creeped out by the idea that someone might be spying on my every move.
Sometimes, it is better not to know where someone is all of the time. Once, a friend of mine decided to throw a cool house party that I wasn’t invited to. When I opened Life360, I saw that one of my close friends (who forgot to turn her location off) was at that classmate’s house. Admittedly, a wave of FOMO washed over me. I felt as if I saw something I was not supposed to. So, be wary of who you share your location with and when you decide to share it. And remember: Even if you do share, you can disable your tracking app whenever you want to. — Ianna Banfield, 17 (she/her)