InstagramI’ve decided to stop using Instagram. It only just occurred to me that maybe I don’t want people to see where I am and who I’m with at that exact moment. There are lots of other things you can use Instagram for, of course, and I can always take those photos and ‘gram ‘em later, but that loses the whole “Insta” part of it.

Why am I giving it up? I’ve gone through my feed and I see some friends and acquaintances who are not only taking a photo of where they are but have also “checked in,” and described their exact place within that location (like, “Partying at [cool club here] in the back room, like rockstars!”) One day I thought, “Wow, this has the potential to be really dangerous.” Then I thought about how when I’ve gone on vacation I’ve posted my vacation pics on Instagram, too. It’s almost like I’m saying, “I’m not home right now, I am clearly across the country at the moment, feel free to rob my apartment and steal my car.”

There’s even a website created on that very subject. Please Rob Me, which aims to “rais[e] awareness about over-sharing.” You can enter your Twitter username to see if people can see your check-ins. It’s not anything new; the website was founded about two years ago. But it was before the age of Instagram. On Instagram (and sites like Foursquare, too), you’re letting people know exactly where you are without having to even say anything.

I think when we’re young and happy we feel like we’re invincible. Who’s really going to take the time to find out where I am and rob or harm me? What are the odds of actually being murdered when meeting someone on OKCupid or Craiglist? Who the hell would check my Facebook to see what I’m up to and use that to hurt me? I don’t know. Maybe the person who murdered rapper Lil JoJo just hours after he tweeted what he was doing with his location? The fear even affects “Twilight” stars: Kristin Stewart said in an interview, “I’m going to die because somebody is going to say where I am and somebody is going to kill me. Someone’s going to Twitter my location and it’s going to be, like, boom.”

Okay, but I’m not famous so I’m fine, right? Do you have an abusive, jealous ex? Like this woman who was stabbed by her ex after he saw her Facebook photos of her with a new boyfriend?

None of this is Instagram’s fault, per se. But, if you’re mentally unstable and dangerous, Instagram is a perfect stalking tool.  Yes, I know that some don’t even use it as a social function by keeping their account locked. And you may think I’m a big ol’ curmudgeon and maybe even completely ridiculous for being “afraid” of using Instagram and trying to be a buzzkill for those who do. Really, I’m not. If you want to keep using Instagram, go for it. I was obsessed with it. But I think from now on I’ll just switch to bringing an actual crappy camera with me when I go out. I blog a lot about my life, but I never reveal my coordinates. And when I realized that by using Instagram, and it to my Facebook account, it was like I was blogging in real time. And that’s not a door I’m comfortable opening.

This post originally appeared on The Frisky. Republished with permission.

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  • rushel

    While pointing out how dangerous social media can be, I think it’s more effective to do so in tandem with pointing out how to use it safely.

    A very, very simple tip: stagger the posting of your instagram photos and your check ins; delay them.

    You’re on vacation out of town and you’re on the beach with your friends when you see a really cute crab. You MUST snap an instagram photo of that crab (obviously) but you really have no need to upload it immediately. The photo already captures the moment in time. Eerily, your smartphone will record the exact date, time and place the photo was taken whether or not you have internet access on your phone at the time. So fret not, we’ll know/see you were with a really cute crab at the beach, even if you upload it when you’ve left and returned to your hotel, or the airport, or all the way back home.

    As far as checking in goes, if you’re not doing it to receive an immediate perk, but one that will come later through mayorship/ whatever, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with checking in when you’re LEAVING a place rather than when you just arrive.

    These things are not scary if you use them with some common sense. Saying that you’re not going to post a photo to instagram after you leave because it looses the ‘insta’ part is like saying you’re not going to wear you handbag over your shoulder protectively when walking through a crowd because it looses the ‘hand’ part.

  • omfg

    i often feel so old fashioned or out of it because i am private and don’t embrace facebook or instagram.

    blogs, youtube and twitter are cool to me though. twitter can be a minefield if approached poorly though.

    • Deb

      Same here, the concept of Instagram alone makes me want to hyperventilate. It’s just beyond unnecessary to me and imo breeds nothing but narcissism. BUT what’s new with most social media platform these days…

  • K

    i realize everyone is not as anti-social as me but 1st no one knows where I live!!! i have a few friends, more acquaintances only my friends know i live as even that was on an as needed basis. so if i go out of town only ppl i trust would even know where to rob me at and seeing as how i trust them i dont thnk they will rob me lol, but i realize this isnt feasible for most ..i guess im just trying to tell everyone stop inviting every tom dick and harry to your house ALL THE TIME and saying yes they can bring a friend who you dont know so let me say my main point

    I enjoy using foursquare and instagram locations b/c sometimes I’m a little sentimental and like to look at the maps of where ive been, point is, you know how i use these? i ONLY CHECK IN WHILE IM LEAVING!!!! those pictures will be there a few hours later, go ahead and throw up your pictures with locations but do as you are leaving i promise no one knows the difference between “we got the patron on deck at xyz club” at 10pm or 2am now if you are too drunk to upload a picture thats an entirely diff situation & i wont touch it lol

  • E.M.S.

    Being stalked/attacked is a risk we take all the time, regardless of social media. You don’t have to post to your friends/networks where you are to possibly get attacked there. You don’t have to share photos for people to know what you were up to when folks can just gossip and say they saw you doing something with somebody and that info can travel to the wrong individual.

    For daily activities, I don’t think posting where you are for major locations or events is a problem, but consistently checking in to the same places can become a problem. If someone wanted to stalk you, they’d know your pattern.

    The big thing is taking advantage of privacy settings. If you’re concerned, keep your profiles private. And if you’re really uncomfortable then yes, delete your accounts all together. And also don’t post on fan pages, Google archives a lot of the comments.

    Considering the millions of people using facebook and instagram daily without incident, it’s a small calculated risk. Just a matter of whether or not you want to take it.