Monday, August 15th, 2011
As I log into my Gmail each morning, I see the little “+Kirsten” at the top left of the screen. I sometimes absentmindedly click on the link, taking me to my Google+ account. The blank page stares back at me with the single stretch of text:
Nothing shared here so far. Try adding more people to your circles.
It’s not disappointing to see I have no new posts or messages; after all, I don’t even have a photo but simply the default silhouette of a large-headed figure at the top of the screen. (Almost ominous looking, don’t you think?) It doesn’t bother me that my Google+ profile shows nothing but four friends and suggestions for how to get started, because despite the new social networking site being invite-only at this point, I’m sticking to my guns that this will not ever become “the new Facebook”.
Honestly, it’s not that I adore Facebook. It definitely has its faults. The problem is I really don’t have enough energy to become addicted to a new social networking site. Porting over all the interests, photos, videos and friends to accurately portray my virtual self is more than I want to deal with, and I’m hoping others are as lazy as me.
Despite my hope that Facebook is here to stay, evidence shows otherwise. We all remember Myspace. I checked my account about a year ago, and the site was a ghost town. The remains of online friendships were decaying on my wall - posts dated from years ago next to more silhouetted photos (as my Myspace friends have all abandoned their profiles as well.) That was a year ago, and I suppose my profile will now forever be frozen in time, as I have since forgotten both my login email address and password.
Aside from the notion that there will always be a better social networking site, (history repeated itself when Friendster lost to Myspace which lost to Facebook), all the proof I don’t want that Google+ will eventually takeover is that our social media expert Danielle Yuthas is adamant it will.
Yuthas strongly believes Facebook will be trumped by Google+. “Being able to control what you broadcast to whom is a niche that social media has needed to fill for a long time,” Yuthas said, and it seems that Google+ has done just that. According to Yuthas, the true beauty is that you have the ability to divide people into groups known as “circles” but they do not know which circle they are in. For example, it is not explicitly disclosed to your mom that she is seeing a different status update from you than your bff receives.
It’s true, privacy may be the most important thing when it comes to essentially bearing it all online for the world to see. As Nancy Clark has said, “What happens in Vegas stays on Facebook.” It’s the same for any social networking site where you publicly post photos and conversations. The “circles” in Google+, however, keep things more controlled. Facebook has a similar feature, limited profiles. However, these privacy settings are much more complicated to figure out and still don’t seem to be very effective in keeping a Vegas trip out of the office. It was a late addition to Facebook and users haven’t gotten into it.
A second feature Google+ has that fills a niche is called “Huddle.” With this, you and a group of friends can combine your separate conversations into one group chat. So now, trying to decide on Friday night plans with ten different people is more efficient.
Google+ also integrates with Google’s photo-sharing platform Picasa so you can share albums with individuals. On Facebook, users tend to choose the best pictures to post for all to see but there isn’t exactly a good way to send individuals particular pictures you don’t want out in public.
So yeah, maybe Yuthas is right. Maybe Google+ will someday dominate. It seems that at least a few of their features are needed in the social networking world, and I’m sure there are people willing to harness enough energy to re-add some friends. For me, though, I’m content with sticking with what works. Even if that means I’ve got a shadowy figure as a profile image on my blank Google+ page, while posting lone statuses into an abandoned Facebook newsfeed. Only time will tell the trends that catch on.