Hiding from the (Fr)Enemy: iTunes' Cloak App

Where did everyone go?

Where did everyone go?

Humans are social creatures, there’s no doubt about that. But some days, it can feel like if we don’t see another person for the rest of our lives, it still wouldn’t be long enough.

We feel freakishly anti-social, like don’t-even-LOOK-at-me antisocial, and yet the thought of staying cooped up and tucked in all day doesn’t appeal to us all. And sometimes we’re just trying to avoid someone all together.  Like, say our ex’s flavor-of-the-week at the local coffee shop, or our boss’ assistant when we take “sick” days. But since implanting GPS trackers in humans isn’t legal (yet), there’s really no way to know if we’re going to run into that person.

Until now.

“Cloak,” an app currently available in the iTunes Store, is the name of the game if you’re keen on turning social media into a game of hide-and-seek. (For all you HPotter fans, this is the closest thing to an Invisibility Cloak you’re going to get for a while.) The app pulls all the geo-data from Instagram and Foursquare accounts and then politely sends you real-time alerts about which of your friends might be nearby at any given time. You can even check the map for more detailed specifics of their whereabouts if you need to plan a safe escape route.

The timing of Cloak’s release is pretty interesting, given the recent digital privacy scandals that have rocked the country– or more specifically, Edward Snowden and the NSA data sweeps that have the world in a tizzy. The concept of “privacy,” although hard to measure in conventional terms in this age of social media madness, nonetheless is an important issue to a growing number of people– from Baby Boomer to Millenials.  Everyone is concerned as to what “privacy” means.

But is giving an app access to your personal information – effectively decreasing the amount of digital privacy you possess – in order to increase the privacy you enjoy offline really the wisest possible course of action, not to mention a bit extreme? It also strikes us as a bit hypocritical. It’s fine to scroll through and judge all 2,000 photos on your frenemy’s IG account but God forbid you actually have to see her in public– adaptation is  paramount to our physical survival, and avoidance may not be a trait that bodes well for human evolution. For example, bunnies may burrow to avoid predators, but they’ve got to face the world at some point if they want to eat.

Do we really need apps that constantly move us inward?

Also, focusing on avoiding individuals like your ex and his boo seems a little myopic (and silly). And perhaps an even more pressing concern: what about all our beloved sitcoms? How will they survive without all the awkward run-ins that Cloak is getting ready to eradicate?

If you don’t want your Instagram followers to have the option to avoid you all day, simply turn off your geo-tagging feature. This will also protect you from serial killers (We know, True Detective has done some damage to your imagination.)  Although, in the immortal words of Damian from Mean Girls, it might be equivalent to committing social suicide.

If they can’t find you, do you even exist? Ahh Cloak: the existential crisis.

Still, if you insist on donning this cloak, so to speak, at least use it the way it was meant to be used: for stalking purposes.

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