Things People Do On Google Plus

The complex world of social networking has been ‘rocked’ by the introduction of Google+, an event that gives technology writers the opportunity to type phrases like ‘the web giant’s answer to Facebook’ or ‘salvo’ or ‘shot across the bow’ or other fashions of combining words in order to invest readers with the sense that Google making some kind of move to ‘roll out’ social networking across its product and service offering was sufficiently momentous to be a ‘game changer’.

People apparently like to discuss the narrative arcs of social networking utilities as if they were team sports; on the matter of Twitter people enjoy hyperbole such as ‘Twitter started the Egyptian revolution’ or ‘Twitter is changing [something] forever’, while in the media Facebook is accorded the same degree of personification, cultural analysis and debate as would a country. The demise of MySpace was met with precisely the same blend of nostalgia and cynicism as would the death of Lindsay Lohan.

The magnitude of Google+’s arrival on the ‘scene’ means that individuals feel obligated to discuss or otherwise acknowledge Google+ whether or not they are using it. Those who are not using it may not yet have received an ‘invite’. Invites are simply the system the service is using to manage the rate of subscriber growth as it continues to test out and refine various Google+ features, and it is not very difficult for interested parties to gain access and then grow their base of friends should they aim to cultivate one.

However, that there is an ‘invite’ system also seems to make the service somehow more desirable or more subject to judgment of elitism, resulting in numerous people complaining about not having yet received their invite, responding to invite giveaways by their friends on Facebook and Twitter, and/ or drawing/ reading/ sharing web comics where Google+ is anthropomorphized as some type of ‘snobby hipster’ cliché as compared to other services that are being rendered as friendly mainstream bros.

Others are not using Google+ simply because they are not particularly interested in social networking. These are often people who were a number of years late to Facebook, delaying on the basis that ‘I can just call my friends on the phone,’ or who are now saying things like ‘I don’t do Facebook’ or ‘I can’t stand Facebook’ without being able to explain why. These are also the people who claim to dislike or not to understand Twitter, who have ‘lapsed’ Twitter accounts or who otherwise make statements like ‘nobody needs to know what I am eating for breakfast’.

But those who are using Google+ are engaged in a variety of behaviors on this ‘new frontier’ of social networking, and the most popular ones are as follows.

Discussing Google+

New users arrive on the service and promptly begin discussing it amongst themselves. Many will post statements to the effect of Google+’s supremacy to Facebook, noting that they no longer have any reason to use Facebook within five minutes on the service. Others will decide that their status as early adopter has come with an additional mantle of punditry, and they will opine quite authoritatively on the strengths and flaws of the new service and how they expect to see it evolve, i.e. wondering re Android apps, integration with other Google services such as ‘Docs’ or ‘Buzz’. Rare skeptics will use Google+ to complain about why they are unlikely to get much use out of Google+.

More conservative or casual users will simply make cute ‘quips’ such as ‘well I’m here’ or puns to do with ‘circles’. In extreme cases, users will read things like ‘changelogs’ or ‘dev diaries’ or actually communicate with Google community management employees and excitedly keep their friends apprised of their thoughts.

Adding People To Circles

The primary ‘thing’ about Google+ is that instead of having a ‘friends list’ you have ‘circles’ of your friends. Google shows you people you might know and it gives you the option not only to add them on Google+, but to sort them into circles based on how and why you know them, assumedly to filter whether they can see your updates or not but actually for no ostensible purpose, the sort of tool that abstractly sounds like a good idea/ seems like it would be valuable but then has no practical impact when in use.

‘Circle of Friends’ is the name of an excellent national program for high school students working to help physically and mentally disabled peers feel socially included at school; it is acceptable to remember this program every time you use Google+.

Wondering About/ Greeting Strangers

Most people who are proponents of Google+ say they are excited that the people adding them on the service are their actual friends/ people they actually know IRL and are legitimately interested in having contact with, versus Facebook which is assumed to be cluttered with distant acquaintances, unwanted relatives, ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, professional connections and other people that the Facebook user willingly accepted friend requests from or to whom they sent friend requests at some point in time and have not since removed.

However, people are so excited to be adding people to circles that one is liable to be added by any number of strangers or minor acquaintances, resulting in numerous Tweets/ Facebook posts/ Google+ posts reading things to the effect of ‘who are all these people adding me on Google+?’ For example, when I am added by someone on Google+ and I know/ like them I rapidly put them into one or more ‘circles’, however if I don’t at all recognize them I don’t put them into any circles. As of now I have added 143 people to circles, whereas 1143 people have added me. Who are all these people adding me on Google+?

+1-ing Things

Facebook popularized the word ‘Like’ as a noun, through its interface by which people demonstrate approval for something by clicking ‘Like’ thus making it possible to measure how widely approved-of an image, comment or link is by how many ‘likes’ it has received. Google+ allows people to ‘like’ things by clicking a blue button that says ‘+1’. This makes the noun form of approval on Google+ to be predictably ‘plus-ones’, as in, ‘my picture received six plus-ones on Google+’.

Although the form of +1 has not yet been concretely established it looks likely that ‘plus-one-ing’ will be how people vocalize their expression of approval for things on Google+, e.g: “I don’t know really what there is to do on Google+ so I just go through my feed plus-one-ing everything.” It is possible that early adopters can entertain and thereby cement various alternate spellings, such as “plus-oneing” or “+1ing”.

It seems possible that “plus-one-ing” is meant to move a statement higher up in one’s ‘feed’, similar to the failed, inscrutable ‘buzz up’ which Google has attempted to implement in the past. However if the plus-one-ing has any purpose different from Facebook ‘likes’, it isn’t immediately evident. Going to type “+1” on my friends’ Facebook posts so that they can ‘like’ it, an indicator of our ironic appreciation and fledgling interest in Google+. TC mark

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  • http://twitter.com/brandollars Brandon Silverman

    I was hoping this article would be more like: “NOTHING.” and be done with it. Google+ is a cool idea, but I just don’t see people making the switch from Facebook as they did with MySpace.

  • Aelya

    God Google+ is so useless

  • http://twitter.com/lukebourassa Luke Bourassa

    People DO spend a lot of time on Google+ discussing Google+.

    Others like to post messages like “Still trying to figure out how this works.” *blank stare* Really?

  • http://twitter.com/lukebourassa Luke Bourassa

    People DO spend a lot of time on Google+ discussing Google+.

    Others like to post messages like “Still trying to figure out how this works.” *blank stare* Really?

    • http://eccentricerrant.wordpress.com/ Alexandrea

      “Still trying to figure out how this works.”   — My first post went something like that. I was surprised it got posted because I was really lost in there at first.

  • Plusosaurus

    I wish I could plus-one this.

  • http://twitter.com/alfredosays Alfredo Gil

    On it. Love it. Don’t use Facebook anymore. Yup, I’m one of “those”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    google+ friends~~~~~

  • Nate

    I don’t get why people are all jocking Facebook as if it’s the culminated perfection of social networking. Whatever happened to good old fashioned competition? G+ is shaping up to be a most excellent alternative to FB, especially to jaded late generation social network users. 

  • James Roehl

    what about ‘hanging out’?  That’s definitely something facebook does not do.  Multiple person vid-chatting?  Seems like the one cool thing about google+

    • oy

      Video chatting creeps me out. 

  • James Roehl

    what about ‘hanging out’?  That’s definitely something facebook does not do.  Multiple person vid-chatting?  Seems like the one cool thing about google+

  • James Roehl

    what about ‘hanging out’?  That’s definitely something facebook does not do.  Multiple person vid-chatting?  Seems like the one cool thing about google+

  • Luke Midworth

    thanks for returning to bad and ultimately worthless articles, leigh alexander, following a ~3-month flirtation with being a genuinely interesting writer

    • Guest

      wtf?

      • http://www.facebook.com/wingedthing Leigh Alexander

        my articles are all about the same level of quality i think, you just find some interesting and others not

        in fact, it’s often the articles where i go ‘haha only people with bad taste will like this accident i just spit out’ that are the most well-liked/successful 

        thanks for your comment bro

    • Guesty

      this comment is so intense

  • http://twitter.com/nuclearcabbage Nive

    +1 

  • http://www.facebook.com/TomSmizzle Tom Smith

    My first and most ‘plus-oned’ post on Google+ was ‘circlejerk’
    I even twitpic-ed a screenshot of it for pan-social-network recognition.

  • http://twitter.com/TikldBlu Ryan Percival

    I think my experience of G+ must be different from yours Leigh. It’s like a nice hybrid of Facebook and Twitter to start: I can focus in and communicate to a varying range of people whom I know to varying degrees. I can also follow people I find interesting. I joined a ‘flash mob’ circling of people interested in Tabletop gaming and from that have chatted with a few very interesting people I’d not have had the opportunity to otherwise. I can laser focus my posts to one person or a specific subset or I can target everyone silly enough to follow me. If I don’t like the fact that 2000 people followed me then I don’t post publically, instead just keeping it to those circles I know. 

    What I do see though, is the start of the inevitable ‘brand wars’ – the thing I use or bought is soooo much better than the thing you use or bought, why? Because I use it! Facebook is better, no G+ is better, Twitter is so much more fun and simple… blah! It’s as volatile and pointless as iOS vs Android, XBox vs PS3 or Bruce Wayne vs Dick Grayson… each has its pro’s and con’s and can each be enjoyed uniquely without detracting from the charm of the other. Does there really need to be one social network ring to rule them all? Eventually you’ll find yourself gravitating to one or the other and using it more, or you’ll stick with what you know as it does everything you need. It doesn’t make you any better than the next guy or the one they use any less cool or valid. I just don’t get the hostility, did Google kick someones puppy or something and I missed the animated gif?

  • Guesty

    I’m on it, but it’s so fucking boring right now.  

  • vamos

    Quit it with the single quote abuse already. 

  • http://mannaarie.tumblr.com/ Manna Arie

    I deleted my facebook a bit ago and have Google+, but it’s boring right now because my people aren’t using it. Yet. I hope it catches on. I like it more.
    I’m getting back on Facebook soon to blast 10 posts in a row for the people who had me hidden before for fun.

  • xra

    i want an invite someone gimme an invite

    • http://mannaarie.tumblr.com/ Manna Arie

      whats your email?!

    • http://mannaarie.tumblr.com/ Manna Arie

      whats your email?!

    • http://mannaarie.tumblr.com/ Manna Arie

      whats your email?!

  • http://twitter.com/gagopolis Allan Policarpio

    Google+ can never. The only thing I liked about it is that you can post animated gifs.

    • http://eccentricerrant.wordpress.com/ Alexandrea

      But that’s a total +1! I hate how Facebook doesn’t allow that. 

  • http://eccentricerrant.wordpress.com/ Alexandrea

    I would love Google+ more if it has a -1 feature. Facebook wouldn’t put on ‘Dislike’ but I’m hoping Google is cooler than that.

  • valtameri

    This article was ‘hard to read’.

  • Fivefivegenie

    Just got invited to google+ on Saturday…really don’t see what the big deal is.  Once I have more friends, I can see the hangouts being handy…right now, it’s kinda (actually, make that REALLY) boring.  What IS there to do on Google+? All I see is faceb0ok-like posts plus the hangouts and a few games (wow, there’s a total of 16…about 2 which I’d actually play), without all the fun stuff. 

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