Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What started as an experiment . . .

Social media is so much fun and consumes a large part of my life. The list of sites that I have joined is extensive. I am a fan of the obvious Facebook, Twitter, Four Square, GetGlue, and of course the latest, Google+. I often hear people voice worry over the idea of "checking in" on these sites. I've been warned about the dangers of home theft and of course stalking issues. I can't say that it's ever deterred me from earning my Four Square badges or loyalty discounts.

A few weeks ago, my daughter's step-mom, Nicole (who happens to be my friend), invited me to spend a week of "girl-time" on the beautiful beaches of Florida for some relaxation time. I really wanted to go, but did not commit. The girls arrived in Florida on Monday and each day they begged me to come. I continued to say no. Since my daughter had left the week before to spend a school year with her Dad and Nicole, I really started missing her. I decided that I would show up as a surprise. I did not know where the girls were staying in Florida, but if I asked for directions it would spoil the surprise. I noticed on Nicole's Facebook page that she checked in when they arrived at the beach. The check-in even included a map. It made me wonder if I would be able to find them on the beach based on the check-in. So, my experiment began.

I hit the road on Friday morning using the check-in location to plug into my iPhone Google Map. 9 hours and some minutes later I arrived in Ft. Walton Beach. I pulled into one of the condo parking lots on the Santa Rosa Boulevard and walked out to the beach. Using a photo that my daughter had taken earlier in the day of her sister, I was able to find the condo building by matching the balcony similarities. I knew that I would find them on the balcony because I called a few minutes before my arrival and was told they were enjoying the view. The first thing that I did was post a picture on my Facebook wall of the beach with a caption "I love the beach" and tagged both Nicole and my daughter, Laura. After a few highly anticipated seconds I had no response. Can you imagine . . . seconds going by with no response on a Facebook post? (HA!) It took me about 5 minutes to spot my daughter on the seventh floor balcony. Yelling her name from the white sands below, she waved back at me like it was no big deal.

Within seconds she realized it was me and let out a "Mommy!" that made me happy that I had made the drive. She ran, no I think she flew, down the stairs within a matter of seconds and literally knocked me to the ground with a hug. She almost made me drop the bottle of wine that I had brought for Nicole from a Louisiana vineyard. That would not have been good!

As I was talking with a very shocked Nicole, we both were not sure if we should be happy that I found them or a little bit scared. Although social media is hip and cool or whatever the "in" word might be, I guess the value of the "check-in" is one to be considered carefully. I knew that I could have just as easily found the girls by making a phone call, but it was so much more fun to drive across several states thinking of ways to surprise them. I spent the week sunning in the beautiful 91 degree weather, while reading tweets and posts about the 107 degree heat back at home. It was a great girls week that started as a fun experiment.

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