This summer, when Ms. Okoro fell out with two friends, her first act of digital severance was not to block their phone numbers or to unfollow them on social media, but to stop sharing her location. She didn’t want them to know whether she was at home in Dallas or at school in College Station, Texas — or where she was at all.
“When that friendship is no longer there, I immediately take my location back,” she said.
The fear of missing out, typically fostered by social media, can extend to Find My because location sharing reveals how and with whom people spend their time, said Amanda Lenhart, who studies how technology affects families at the technology research nonprofit Data & Society. That increased awareness “can be troubling and emotionally difficult,” she said.
“If you can see where your friends are and what they’re doing, you can also see when they’re gathering and you’re not there,” Ms. Lenhart said. “It gives the window that social media has into the activities of people that we like, which can include them doing things without you.”
As Adira Gresham, 21, and her friends left Chicago for college, they shared their locations with one another. Ms. Gresham now shares her location with about 20 people. She checks her app at least twice a day and is not ashamed to ask what her friends are doing at a location — and why they are there without her.
“They used to be like: ‘Please stop. That’s a little weird,’” Ms. Gresham said. “Now, they know it’s not me being weird. It’s really just a safety thing.” Sometimes, she added, “they all joke and say that I’m a stalker.”
But Ms. Gresham has drawn some lines. Once, while her friends were arguing, one friend tried to persuade her to share the other friend’s location so they could fight. She balked.