When a friend sent me the invite for Google+ the other week, I was ecstatic. I saw the email on my handheld as I walked to my car, and as soon as I entered my apartment, I set up an account, friended a couple of fellow early adopters, spent some time browsing the site, and then went back to skimming Facebook.
Since then, I have checked back once or twice, like tonight, but I really cannot find a use for it.
Honestly, I like Google+ much more than Twitter. The only people who follow my tweets these days aren’t even people, they’re businesses, or towns. I count @Koreatown as one of my top followers. Sometimes I put up links to my articles, even more occasionally I interact with someone I have not seen since college, but most of the time, the site bores me.
And Google+ feels better than Facebook. With all of the friends I have accumulated, I don’t feel that the relationships are meaningful anymore. I can’t be friends with four hundred people, I have trouble enough keeping up with the ten or so friends I do try to stay in touch with. I am stuck with several hundred “friends” who I know a little too much about but can’t avoid checking up on.
Google+ modifies social networking nicely. I can choose whether my friends are part of “family,” “friends,” or “acquaintance” circles, which makes it less of a hassle to pick apart a news feed for content I really want to read. And these circles are a little easier to set up than lists on Twitter. I like that unlike Buzz it is opt in only. And unlike Facebook, I feel much safer sharing information on Google+, maybe because their sharing options are more straightforward.
Yet I haven’t really used it for anything. If no one updates, then that motivates me even less to try. My theory is that during this extended roll-out, the people who want to be on the site are on it, and sick of talking to other early adopters, and have signed off prematurely. Google+ needs to either open up to everyone or do a better job advertising itself. As of now, only one of my six friends uses the site on a more than weekly basis.
Like the forward-thinking Google Wave, if the company simply sits on this project, it will fail. Even if it is objectively a better social networking program, if no one uses it, then it’s no longer social. It will take much more than a beta test to determine whether people will switch networks to Google+. And at the rate people are using it, I don’t think they will.
My theory is that anything that just starts and is rolled out on such a large scale like Google+ will feel more intimate because all the spammers and hangers-on won’t be there (like on Twitter), just your more immediate circle of friends. I’m still skeptical about what value Goggle+ will add that I don’t already get elsewhere in places where I’m already connected. We’ll see huh? Yours truly, an early adopter-type. 🙂
I think the question is “Has Facebook attained such a critical mass that a new platform, even one that serves our needs better, has little chance of taking off?” No one has time to add yet another “thing to stay in touch with people” to their lives, yet many of us are truly unamused by many aspects of the Facebook experience.
It has its pros, but I think it only feels so good right now because it hasn’t been monetized. Once it’s junked up with games and ads, I don’t know…
Btw, it’s not ALL opt-in, which I was really disappointed to find. If you don’t want people to be able to download or print your personal photos, you better click on Photos up in the gray bar, go to the Settings (gear icon in the corner) and then opt out.