With Facebook Places, you can use your smartphone to tell the world where you are.
But with a credit or debit card, you can tell the world where you are — and what you are buying.
Using purchases to connect socially is a concept slowly gaining momentum. The two best sites for this now are Blippy.com and Swipely.com.
The two have slight differences, but the basic concept is that you give them your credit card information (via bank-grade encryption that you’d find on other shopping websites), and you can share on Facebook and Twitter what you are buying and later add a review or tell a story about your purchase.
Here’s how they differ: Blippy lets you choose whether to share the price, and Swipely never shares the price.
If you are uncomfortable about giving either website your credit or debit card, you can connect it to your e-mail, so that it will pick up on any e-mail receipt you get about an online purchase. On Blippy, you can also link it to other online accounts, such as Netflix, iTunes or eBay.
That’s not an option with Swipely — but it does let you set the share settings for different types of purchases. For example, you can tell it not to share purchases from gas stations or grocery stores — but to share purchases on electronics and at restaurants. That isn’t possible on Blippy.
So why would you want to share this information with anyone? Think of it as a tool for telling your friends recommendations for the movies you like, the restaurants you don’t and the story behind those purple welding goggles you just had to have.
I enjoy using these services to share tidbits of my life and give opinions on what I bought in a creative way. When I’m out with friends, I cherish my time with them and do my best to keep off Facebook and keep the phone in my purse. When I get back to my computer, I can review each purchase individually, and choose the ones worth sharing.
But beware: When you sign up for a service like this, there’s a degree of over-sharing that can easily lead to annoying your social network connections. So if you want to dive into this new territory, be sure to slowly ease into it. I would turn off options to automatically post purchases on Facebook and Twitter — at least in most cases.
Posting every swipe at a McDonald’s or gas station clutters up the feed for other people, and doesn’t add value. You can go back into the site later and write a review or tell a story about your visit.
You can also get yourself into a socially awkward situation if you don’t screen what you share. You spent HOW MUCH at that restaurant? Didn’t know you had that kind of money. Or, Thanks, Dad, for spoiling Mom’s birthday present. And you bought it the same day as the party? Classy.
And for those with something to hide, sharing automatically is just another way to get caught doing something you don’t want the significant other to know about. Sooner than you can say ‘gotcha,’ it’ll be the cause of the next murder plot on “CSI: Miami.” n