This Is Us

Google Maps Basically Thinks I’m Dead

The app stopped tracking me on March 10, 2020 — and I’m lost without it

Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons
Human Parts
Published in
8 min readAug 5, 2020

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Person wearing astronaut standing in empty street with phone raised, taking a selfie.
Photo: Eugenio Marongiu/Getty Images

My timeline stops on March 10, 2020.

That sounds so futuristic to say. Like I’m some kind of Sarah Connor and that’s the date pinpointed by time travelers to snuff me out before I get pregnant with the leader of the resistance. Or to make sure I get pregnant? I don’t know. My Terminator knowledge is fuzzy at best, and there’s no one here to ask but my cat. I could look it up, but the last thing I want to do while sitting alone in the epicenter of a global pandemic is Google the robot uprising.

One dystopian hellscape at a time, please.

To clarify, my Google Maps Timeline stops on March 10 at a WeWork on the corner of 31st and Park Avenue. What does that mean? Well, apparently, I turned on “Location History” at some point, and now I receive these periodic updates via email with the total miles I’ve traveled by foot, train, or car along with highlights of the places I’ve been, sights seen.

I could turn it off, but that would require reading the email to figure out how. I never paid much attention to the updates, let alone clicked on the big blue “Explore Timeline” button in the middle of the message. I didn’t need a private timeline created by my stalker cellphone to tell me about my own life.

When the email appeared in my inbox mid-April, the subject line was a jolt: “Kelly Jean, your March update.”

I opened the message and, for the first time, clicked on the blue button. Not because I needed to explore my Google Timeline to know where I’d been. I knew where I’d been. Nowhere. I’ve been nowhere for weeks. The only sights I’ve seen are my cat and the inside of my refrigerator. I’m still nowhere. I hit the “Explore Timeline” button because I wanted to see my timeline stop cold. To witness my data-driven, geotagged existence nosedive off the pointed peak of March 10 and fall into the abyss with a high-pitched, echoing yodel like the little Swiss mountain climber dude from that game, what’s it called, the one on The Price is Right. The one with Bob Barker, not Drew Carey. Well, maybe the one with Drew Carey. I don’t watch the one with Drew Carey. But…

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Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons
Human Parts

Writer, educator, and producer of No, YOU Tell It! (noyoutellit.com) Stalk my Insta adventures @KJ_Fitzsimmons @noyoutellit