Google+ is better for the web than Facebook
I’ve always been a bit of a outsider. I’m partially naturally inclined that way and partially fond of being interested in things that a minority is, which is why I’ve been questioning whether I really do think Google+ is superior to Facebook. And I do.
I grew up in the age of Facebook. I remember the summer before I started college there was some kind of strange compulsion by the incoming freshman to friend each other and check each other out on Facebook. It was really more of a way of possibly skipping all the awkwardness of trying to find your place in the first few months of college. Or at least it seemed that way. In truth I think Facebook only prolonged that process by making us think we were supposed to or (even worse) should be friends with the people we seemed to like over Facebook. Perceptions like that come from Facebook’s emphasis on creating a profile that you think is representative to yourself while also being attractive to other people. The whole emphasis of Facebook really is on creating an appearance that you think represents yourself accurately while also appealing to other people. Connecting people and creating a place for comfortable interaction is only secondary.
By contrast, Google+ is much more about interacting with people. Like with Facebook, part of the full Google+ experience is creating a profile of yourself for other users to see but the emphasis is not on displaying how attractive and wonderful your life is, how sexy you look in your Halloween costume, or how many inside jokes you have with your equally cool and sexy friends. The focus is on the Google+ stream, which is how you share content and comment with other users in a similar way to Twitter. For Facebook, there’s the News Feed but that serves more as a teaser for what your friends’ profiles have to offer. The Google+ stream is the main event of Google+.
Now, I do realize that the thing about social networking sites is that users decide what they are. Twitter wouldn’t be such a useful tool for disseminating and receiving breaking news if users didn’t collectively use is it that way. MySpace wouldn’t be such a good website for creating really tacky pages and stalking underaged girls if users didn’t use it that way. And Facebook wouldn’t be such a useful tool for browsing an endless sea of pictures of other people if users didn’t use it that way. I’m not quite sure how Google+ can best be used and I don’t think I’m alone in that. It depends on how users use it when/if it grows. But I do think it’s place on the web will be far more valuable than Facebook’s.
I’ve been using Google+ a lot lately, probably more than I use my Facebook and I’ll say I just come away more satisfied because most of what I do is interact with people and share with people. On Facebook I, as I suspect most people do, spend most of my time checking out other people’s profiles. Seeing what they’ve been up to. Part of this is curiosity but I think that curiosity is based on a deep-seeded quest for confirmation that the party isn’t being missed. If one were to make a list of some of the worst results of successful social networking websites like Facebook, it would have to include users paying more attention to how they are projecting themselves than actually, you know, being social.
Google+ isn’t totally exempt from that but it is way more focused on sharing content than displaying an attractive self, as a social networking website should do.