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Location Sharing, The Latest Neurosis Of The Gen-Z Dating World

At first, Find My iPhone was a nifty feature that would help keep your cellphone safe. Now, with new location sharing technology, the app has become a new panopticon of control for Gen-Z couples, with their every move recorded by watchful eyes, nestled away in back pockets.

Photo of a person touching a map on smartphone.

A map can be seen on a smartphone.

Simonetta Sciandivasci

TURIN — The hypersensitivity to control, a neurosis that COVID-19 initially relaxed and then intensified, is an intolerance full of inconsistencies. It's a yes disguised as a no , a somewhat psychotic hypocrisy, almost a Stendhal syndrome .

We can try to detox from the internet , smartphones, social networks, dating apps , and chats — and we already do this, to some extent, as the means become obsolete (even what doesn't die, ages: Facebook is a geriatric ward; TikTok increasingly resembles an 80's video game).

But in the midst of this intermittent fasting, we become dependent on the apps that tell us where we are and, above all, where others are, with frightening, millimetric precision. "Find My iPhone," the function introduced into our smartphones to make them traceable in case of loss, two years ago became "Find My Friend," to facilitate a new methodology of affection exchange which is becoming more and more popular, especially among adolescents: geolocation.

To give away total control

Telling each other where we are demonstrates trust and, above all, reliability: it's a preemptive certification. And it turns the control of our movements into a test, a thermometer of willingness: the more you tell me where you are, the less you have to hide. It's much more powerful than handing over your phone - remember, there was a time when, in the midst of certain marital disputes, a husband would get himself out of trouble by offering to show his entire messaging archive, so that his wife could verify that he had nothing to hide.

Now, it's about love, flirting, courtship. And a cage.

But more than erasing infidelity, geolocation serves to surrender oneself to the other, to tell them: I don't take a step without you knowing, I carry you with me, we are roommates, cohabitants on a map.

Before, geolocation was a matter of necessity: it was used exclusively to reach each other. Now, it's about love , flirting, courtship. And a cage. The New York Times wrote that some friendships are put to the test by what is becoming, in fact, a need not to meet but to monitor: a moderated, agreed-upon, consensual form of stalking , but still stalking.

If Francesca goes to the park without telling Daniela, and Daniela discovers it when she asks her to share her location, there's trouble: Daniela falls into a tragic whirlwind of jealousy, resentment and feelings of abandonment. Betrayal happens with much less than a lover: betrayal happens by not sharing the intention to go for a walk, by keeping a visit to the museum to oneself, by avoiding company. Betrayal happens in silence.

Screenshot of the app Find My Friends, allowing you to locate friends, family etc.


On the bright side...

Of course, there's also the positive side, which is quite complex as well: reassurance, above all. Parents who, in the past, when their children didn't answer the phone, resorted to more serious solutions to survive their anxiety (some: calling the police, news broadcasters, classmates, other parents, the mayor, emergency services, firefighters and so on to ask if they had seen their offspring and, if yes, where, when, with whom, wearing what) — they now have a very valuable ally.

Then, there are generous Gen Z philanthropists who connect to their friends' geolocation apps for a simple reason: seeing them move, shift, makes them happy. Elisa gets excited knowing that Olga is heading to the beach, and instead of imagining her in a car, or on a bike, or not imagining her at all, she wants to see her zoom by, in the form of a dot, a cursor, on Google Maps.

It's a joy similar to the one we feel when we look at an electrocardiogram of a loved one (or even a stranger) and understand they're alive from the signs, the impulses.

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A Humble Note To Helicopter Parents And Hyperpaternity Dads: We're Born To Fail

One thing's for sure, whether you have children or not: You are bound to make mistakes, experience frustration and learn things the hard way. The key is to gradually understand how to live with it.

Double ouch

Nathan Dumlao/ Unsplash
Ignacio Pereyra

"Whatever you do, you won't do it well". Sentences like that tend to feel like a relief as a father (and in life in general). Sometimes I think I worry (obsess?) too much about being the best parent I can be .

I also end up spending too much time caring about what others think about me as a father — be it my children, my partner or a random person in the park.

That initial sentence is all the more calming considering it was uttered by someone who really knows what they're talking about: the mother of Spanish artists David and Fernando Trueba , a woman who raised six more kids to boot.

In fact, I came across this sentence via an article about hyperpaternity* in Spain’s El Periódico , which helped me think more about how to raise children.

"We are having fewer children, and we are having them later. Children are thus ever precious beings. [...] A status symbol, a reflection of their parents. Raising children, which is something natural and instinctive, has professionalised. We plan each second of our lives around our kids ," says journalist Eva Millet .

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