When was the last time you heard someone say that they wanted to be the mayor? For me, I hear and see it often thanks to Foursquare, a location-based mobile service that allows you to “check-in” at stores, coffee shops, restaurants, vehicles and homes. The grand prize for having the most check-ins at a particular location is the coveted title: Mayor of ______.
This morning, while perusing Facebook, I saw this Foursquare-related post: “The battle over the mayorship of the City of Camas is on, it shall be mine.” This is not the first time that I have seen comments about becoming the mayor of a particular city, in fact, a good friend of mine is often the mayor of Vancouver on Foursquare. But in all of this innocent wordplay and talk of becoming digital mayors of locations have we lessened the need to be real-life public servants?
What would happen if people put the same amount of time and energy that they daily spend becoming the mayor of a coffee shop on Foursquare into serving their community or even aspiring and working towards becoming the actual mayor of the city they live in? What if instead of digitally aspiring to amazing levels of greatness, we stepped into the community ring of service and fought for issues of citizenship and reality?
In an age when the media has made a mockery of government—local, state and federal—we need to regain a focus upon the importance of serving our communities. We need to fight for aspirations that are built upon old-world values such as sacrifice, commitment, duty and honor.
When will we realize that there is a difference between using technology as a tool and worshiping it as a source of salvation?
Our country is crumbling beneath this weight of irony. We are fighting to become something, but we are in the wrong battle, waging an internal war fed by the digital noise telling us that if we become something online it will change the actual world. But, as long as we fight for who the mayor of Starbucks is, and in the same breath belittle the deeds of our elected and volunteer public servants, we run the risk of losing our identity that is found in our relationship to the community that we call home.
I’m not advocating that we eliminate digital technology or progress. I daily benefit professionally and personally because of the technological advances that have been made in photography and video production. But I also realize that I should never forsake my humanity for the sake of progress or for the convenience of winning a free cup of coffee.
The next time you say that you want to be the mayor, go beyond the digital aspiration of wearing the Foursquare crown, and mean it. Aspire to be the mayor of Camas or the mayor of Vancouver. Aspire to serve on the Vancouver City Council. Serve your community.