New Social Network or Another Noisy Pocket of Silence?

Google +. Are we excited yet? The only discussion I’ve heard so far is, will it kill Facebook and/or Twitter the way Facebook apparently killed Myspace? Having never used Twitter, I can’t speak to that issue. However, being a former Myspace user as well as a Facebooker for a few years now, I have a few opinions.

I think the common wisdom says that those of us on Facebook, and there are a crap-ton, will be loathe to move everything to a new place when Facebook seems to work fine. Myspace had gotten too cluttered and once a few people abandoned it, it seemed the exodus was unstoppable. I think we are too entrenched in Facebook to just walk away.

That being said, I think there are a couple of reasons that make a new network appealing. First is simply the chance to reinvent yourself. Precisely because I filled in all the blanks in my Facebook persona years ago, starting over on a fresh page, revealing updated information and current quirks, is fun and satisfying. I think this desire to uncover one’s present identity, after all the events and life experience lived since we appeared on Facebook for the first time, will inspire a great number of people to take the time to sign up on Google +.

And second, a new social network offers the allure of a happening place. It may just be me, but 9 times out of 10, when I sign into Facebook, I may find one good quote or link shared by a friend, or one compelling status update, but for the most part it’s people telling me from their cell phone that they’ve “checked into” Chili’s restaurant (thanks for rubbing that in my face) or that they’ve leveled up on the latest virtual attempt at having a life (time to hide yet ANOTHER game). I am almost always ashamed at how pathetic I’ve been to waste the time getting online and pretending that I’ll find some kind of meaningful connection.

Google + keeps the dream alive.

Do you have any thoughts, predictions or tips to share on the newest trend in social networking, or about our virtual lives in general?

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2 responses to “New Social Network or Another Noisy Pocket of Silence?

  1. It’s bit befuddling for me when I hear people express dissatisfaction with the lack of real connection that they find on FaceBook. It’s a device for communication, and if your communication is not what you wish it were, then that is a function of the people involved and what they are choosing to share, right? Or maybe not. Maybe there is something integral to the design of FB that subdues connection. It could be the overly public space on your wall and newsfeed. Google+ allows us to be more selective with our communication, to share what we choose with whom we choose. Maybe you will choose to create a circle of “meaningfuls” (cute word I just invented). You can open up more in that circle, with people you trust to receive and respond. And your friends can be included in multiple circles, to honor the different ways you wish to develop communication with them. I could see creating a circle of parents, to discuss questions, concerns, accomplishments and pure joy of child-raising with other family types, without fear of over-sharing your kid stuff with the world.

    My FB newsfeed has gotten cluttered, partly because I enjoy adding organizations and advocacy pages. This is my preferred way to get news on the topics about which I care. I find pages with interesting and beautiful content. Some post inspiring and clever images, some support heartwarming efforts like “men stopping violence”, some keep me up to date on specific issues like the American hikers imprisoned in Iran, some are funny (the Onion). I like seeing this content, but now it is all lumped in and jumbled up with my friends and acquaintances. With G+ I can create a circle to follow news, a circle to follow arts and crafts, a circle for entertainment…whatever I choose to design. I could even put all the loudmouth posters (I would probably be included in that category considering my prolific contributions) in one circle so they don’t dominate and talk over other friends to I to whom I might want to give more attention. Because G+ is integrated with Google search I can click on my pre-designed searches in “sparks” and find cool pages from within G+. Then I can go to the associated G+ page, if they have one, and add them to the appropriate circle in order to “follow” them.

    I’ve often compared FB to a cocktail party. It’s a big room filled with conversations. There’s no way you can get in on everything that’s going on. G+ is a party too, but it’s designed to make it easy for you walk into theme rooms designed to meet your mood, or quiet rooms for more intimate talk or a more focussed discussion. And when you place someone in a circle, they don’t know the name of that circle or who else is in it. It is not a “group” it is your personal design for organizing your own consumption of input or your audience(s) for sharing.

    I adore FaceBook. I’ve had a great experience there, and don’t plan to jump ship right now. But I have complained that I’d like to have more capability to customize my social networking experience. G+ is giving that to me. I’d also like to be able to personalize the aesthetic identity of my profile page. Some color, images and fonts, boxes with special features would please my inner artist/designer. (Are you listening Google?) It’s still very early for G+. But I’m having fun with it so far. Since Google is taking over the world, I’m just glad they have such a silly name.

  2. PS, If you decide to try G+, please purposefully edit your settings. People have been complaining that perfect strangers are adding them to circles. This is because, like Twitter you can follow anyone. But understand that those people will not see your posts unless you add them to YOUR circles. And if you don’t want your name to be found by strangers, you can edit your search settings, just like in FB.

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