Maybe I’m getting too old for this.
Right now, the hottest ticket on the interwebs is Google+. I’d heard rumblings about it for several weeks leading up to my Weekend of Soul-Melting Awesome. I saw people begging for invites on Twitter, often offering their children for slave labor, all for a chance to play with the shiny new toy – which incidentally looks like a toy we already play with. Having jumped with great enthusiasm onto the bandwagons of Buzz and Wave, I was willing to sit this one out.
Google likes to reinvent the wheel, offering the same roundness as the wheel, the same tread, just with fancier rims and maybe a plastic bubble where you can watch a hamster go round and round. It has things called Circles (which is like the Lists on FB no one uses), a Huddle – which seems to be a group messaging system that I can see no practical use for, except bombarding friends with messages they have no interest in (you know, “to test”), and vast emptiness, which is sending people running amok cross-posting to FB and Twitter.
“Huddle is a new way for you to easily stay in touch while you’re on the go. With Huddle, you can text groups of people or individual friends in Google+ Mobile. When you receive a new message in Huddle, Google+ sends a push notification to your phone.”
Um… I have text messaging on my phone. I’ve had it since 2006 (does Google not think we can text?). When I’m on the go, I have the option of texting friends or sending a status update to Facebook (also via text). I could also send that same message to Twitter with one app. I don’t need a brand new platform to push my notifications anywhere. Facebook sends me notifications. Twitter sends me notifications. My text messaging software is quite capable of handling it. I also have individual platforms for Facebook and Twitter (I know – someone tell Google!). In fact, as I type this on my computer, I have the Facebook app open on my phone, I know that I have 78 new tweets on Twitter. Everything I need I already have, and now Google is offering me the exact same thing – except I’d be checking three notification beeps, three streams – and really, for what? It simplifies my life how?
But the Privacy! Privacy? For a year now it’s all you ever hear about on Facbook – my privacy has been violated!!!! This from people who play games like Farmville and Mafia Wars, who repeated click on third-party apps, not to mention suspect links in their feeds (Look at this amazing birth that strongly resembles a lady’s nethers!). There are links on news sites and IMDB that let you click Like for Facebook – which people were grumbling about, (because, you know, privacy), yet are hailing as shiny and innovative for Google +. I don’t get it.
For two seconds –just for fun – let’s talk about what happens when your Google+ gets hacked. It’s only a matter of time, hackers love a challenge. I have quite a few programs tied into Google – docs, pics, mail, etc, and by and large separate from my social networking. If by some quirk of sloth or ignorance (or lapse on the part of Google) my account gets hacked – what happens to I have on across Google? With Facebook – if my Facebook account gets hacked, I only have to worry about someone sending viruses, or posting stupid videos, whatever. There’s nothing on Facebook you can’t find anywhere else. That’s by design, by the way. It’s my social face. However, I use Google docs for my writing, my professional correspondence, it’s tied into my livelihood. Some bot hacks that, locks me out – what then?
So then there’s the notifications: Why does Google need to tell me someone has shared a post with me, when really they’ve just shared it with their “Circle”? Is it special just for me? Could I not read it in a general feed? Does this network really center around me and me alone?!?!? No, but somehow, Google thinks you need to know every time someone posts to the feed – because you cannot live without their wisdom. Google+ seems to foster a “unique special snowflake” mentality – every time you post something – everyone will know and +1 it! I’m afraid I am not that needy. It also seems to foster a “stalker” mentality – people can add you to “circles” and follow you but you’ll never know what lists.
I think Google thinks the world acts in much the same way as its offices – pods and playrooms, where people like to get together and share ideas and fun times ALL OF THE TIME. There seems to be no place for the solitary user, people who read their friends’ feeds, comment when the mood strikes them, like when they’d rather not speak.
There is no compelling reason for me to be on Google+, even though I am there (I had to accept one of the six invites sent to me, it seemed important). I’m not posting there, because I’m not starting over again. I have a rather full life on Facebook – my friends, my family, my budding career. I know Neil Gaiman already deleted his account citing too much noise and not enough substance (and yet still received notifications). I can’t disagree. It seems clean and clutter-free *now* but so was Facebook when some of us started. This was before the games, the apps, the “see who’s viewing your profile” lifehacking apps people don’t have the sense enough to not click.
I remember when Gmail was new and you needed an invite to get an address. Now it seems every bot hitting my blog has a Gmail address. It’s just a matter of time before every bot has a + account and is adding you to Circles, and you’re adding them back because it seems rude not to. Soon you’ll be adding people that friend you regardless of whether or not you like them because you just will.
Google+ seems created for the Social Media Hound who needs the cutting edge tech, but talk to me in six months when it looks and feels just like Facebook. Keep your Circles, your Hubs, your specialized streams, because I have a feeling that when the bots and the Mafia and the Farmers show up, you’ll remember exactly how to use your privacy settings here on Facebook. You’ll remember how that “Unfriend” button works. You’ll remember that social media includes all of society, and Google + is just as willing to exploit your info and posts for their own revenue streams.
Remember – this is the company that tried to scoop up the rights of “orphaned” works for their Google Library without bothering to track down copyright. This is the company that alters it’s algorithms to exclude data and sites it doesn’t feel appropriate (mainly content farms), especially in foreign countries like China. This is the company that routinely scans your e-mails and chats to feed to third-party sponsors for advertising. And you complain about Facebook?
But whatever. I am leaving you to Google +. I’ll continue to add people over there, until I’m sick of it and I delete the whole mess, but I’m not posting content. It’s not the privacy concerns, it the redundancy. Having lived through Popmates, Tribe, Friendster, and MySpace – a body gets tired of picking up and starting over. I’m tired of being a social network nomad and leaving just because the grass looks cooler on some other network. I have years of funny comments and photos and friends on Facebook. I can’t port that over and really, I don’t want to. Things may change in a year, but that’s a year from now. Enjoy your experiment. I’ll still be there when you get back.