The announcement of and the invite to Google’s latest attempt at social networking brought with it hopes of an internet utopia: users sharing specific, relevant content to groups divided either by relationship to or shared interest. Finally, I could share tech news with those I consider business associates, pet pics with my family and x-rated comments and images with my friends.
Sorta like web-based email groups, right?
This excited me. I was tired of the constant stream of crap updates on Facebook and pointless retweets on Twitter. Call me difficult, but I’m here to learn, be inspired or socialize; baby pics from people I don’t know and parroted opinions don’t do that very well.
I dove into Google+ like the rest of the geeks did. I followed everyone I recognized and branched out a bit by following people already popular on other social networks. I figured Google+’s new way of arranging contacts would help me rid my stream of the noise I’ve grown tired of.
I was an idiot. It took three days before the first pet pics where posted, baby pics followed soon thereafter. The A-Listers all wrote blog posts about how Google+ could help people, but one stood out.
Louis Gray, popular tech writer (I’m not certain as to what exactly he does) wrote a post admonishing a reader who dared attempt to tell him exactly how he should be using Google+.
I completely get the guy’s point. He follows Gray because he wants to know about tech, not because he cares about pictures of Gray’s kids. This makes sense, as I often follow people because of specific interests, while tolerating all the other updates that don’t pertain to me.
Google+ was supposed to change all that. Finally, people would curate their updates and only post to specific audiences, so the public at large could–as long as the person uses their Circles “correctly”–cut down on noise and only get the meat they desire.
That didn’t happen. No matter how much any of us would like to connect with people that my teach us, it just isn’t possible by adding “friends” the social networking way (adding by interest or friends of friends). Gray is right, social networking is about people, but most of those people don’t care much about the people that listen to them.
And they shouldn’t. Gray publishes what makes sense to him, I tweet what I think is funny and you hopefully post whatever you think is great. This means we often won’t give a crap about what the other posts, and there isn’t anything, nor should there be, we can do about it.
Why? Because we have loose ties. We don’t really “know” each other. So how in the hell do you solve this problem? Bill Binder seems to have the answer:
Choose your friends better. The onus is on each of us to make technology, not people, work the way we want it to.
Let’s save the “you’re not doing it right” conversations as joke fodder during geek conferences. We can’t change people, but we can choose to ignore them.
It’s not personal. Most of us aren’t really friends in the first place.
(To all my friends: you rock. You know who you are. Thanks for making this fun.)