Google+ (and my social networking history…)

OK, I admit it — I’m on Google+.  And I freakin’ LOVE it!!!  Am having the best time just playing around on that site, seeing who and what I run across.  If you want to find me there, here is my URL:  Ever since I ditched FB last December, I’d missed that sense of … something, which I’ve tried to fill (or perhaps re-fill) with blogging, mostly on my old Xanga site and more recently, through my new WordPress blog here.  But it’s different, and we all know that.  Totally different animals.

Anyway, Google+.  I love what you can do with it. I love the photos, the circles, how you can post to only certain people via specific circles if you want.  I love how you can include and exclude info about yourself that somehow gives me a certain sense of (limited) privacy and security I never felt I had at FB.  I love how you can find certain people you find interesting, put them in a circle to “follow” or whatever and vice versa and how you never really have to “friend” each other to do this.  Cause trust me, while I literally did know some 99% of the 550+ “friends” I had on FB IRL, I quickly and sadly found out how few of them were really true friends.  On Google+, you don’t have to fake it. I dig that. I also like their Sparks feature, kind of like tags you’ll find on most blogging sites. All this being said, it’s still in field trials and there are still some things that could and should be done to improve Google+ before everyone in the entire world jumps aboard whenever Google decided to fully open it up.

Well, this topic made me start thinking about my own social networking (now social media?) history during my many years on the Internet (I wrote my first email in 1987!), so I think I’ll briefly touch on that, just for the heck of it. I’m just going to ignore the old BBS’s of the good old early Internet years, pre-Web. I think I’ll just skip ahead to my first known dive into social networking, even though it wasn’t called that then. Any old timers remember 2003? Yeah, it actually wasn’t that long ago. Still, a friend of me told me about a new website called Friendster where you could meet others online (but not as a dating site) and say different things about yourselves and each other and how it seemed like a pretty cool concept. So, I joined Friendster. And if anyone can remember back that far, it was really a pre-MySpace before MySpace was even founded. I consider Friendster to really be the innovator. Too bad it’s now basically dead and has been for years. Pity. Anyway, I quickly found out that everyone was on Friendster within months! And I met some very cool people that way, people I had things in common with or lived near or whatever. It’s how I met a woman who I had many things in common with (such as same alma maters, same degrees, same professors, same love of literature, same politics, etc.), who I then met IRL, and who I then (foolishly, in retrospect) agreed to marry when she proposed to me a very short time after. Sometime during 2004, though, Friendster did something foolish. For some odd reason, a TON of their users had set up accounts for their pets and they made many friends that way. Well, Friendster booted them all off the site, deleted their accounts, and created a great deal of animosity and bad PR in the process. Stupid decision.

Meanwhile, my new (and now ex) wife was a blogging fool on Xanga. I had never heard of blogging or Xanga. I used to tease her about having more of an online life than a real one. However, she set up an account for me in February 2004 and I tentatively started out writing a few lines here and there, not having a clue what I was doing. That said, I had moved back to Knoxville from L.A. and nearly everyone I personally knew in Knoxville was on Xanga, so that was kind of cool. AND, through Xanga’s Blogrings, you got to know other people and it was awesome to run across someone you knew from Xanga while out at a coffee shop or bar, etc. To this day, I still have my Xanga site and I have blogged off and on there since early 2004.

Speaking of 2004, I think it was that time that MySpace sprung up. Well, you know how things are online — fads. Friendster was forgotten by the world in under a month while everyone jumped ship to MySpace, where it was hip and cool to have your own page there. And I jumped over to that site along with everyone else, although I didn’t immediately abandon Friendster. Wow, MySpace was different though. It was what Friendster wanted to be, but didn’t know how to be at the time. And the thing that really hooked me was that so many bands had MySpace sites, increasingly as the years went by. That’s the only reason I maintained a MySpace account through, IDK, maybe 2009? I ran across some awesome bands that way, such as Android Lust, and I loved being exposed to new things. However, I never felt fully comfortable with MySpace, and I couldn’t quite put a finger on it, other than I sometimes felt like I was being stalked in some weird way by various people I didn’t know or want to know. So, I still concentrated on my regular blogging on Xanga.

I don’t remember when I first heard of Facebook, but it was back when it was only open to college students and then, shortly later I think, to high school students as well. I had no interest. But when FB opened itself up to everyone, I became intrigued, so I signed up and was delighted that it was becoming and did become an easy and exciting way to get connected with old high school and college classmates, old work colleagues, etc., who you hadn’t seen in years and who you’d lost touch with. That was the big time seller for me! Shoot, that was years ago too, long before everyone and their brother was on it. Toward the end of my time on FB though, I had been making some critical mistakes. I wrote things on my mind. Yep. On my own FB site. I know, the audacity! And much of the time, I wrote about political issues, such as back in 2008, during the election season. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve been both a Republican and Democrat (although these days, I am pretty embarrassed to admit to having been a Republican at some point…), but when I lived out on the west coast, I was a fairly moderate fellow. Down here in the Red south though, while I still view myself as fairly moderate, leaning slightly left, I’m viewed as a flaming liberal and I quickly found out that dozens, perhaps hundreds, of old high school friends and some college friends just crucified the hell out of me for having the gall to express myself in terms of what I thought about Bush, the war(s), Obama, etc. I literally had over 100 people de-friend me cause of that! Yeah, good friends, right? Long story short, by November 2010 I was becoming seriously disillusioned with FB and my damn friends there, all 550+ of them. Frankly, not too many seemed like friends to me, even though I knew virtually all of them IRL. However, I had felt compelled to stay on FB because by that point, everyone in the universe was on it and more importantly, well over half of my own Xanga blogging pals had abandoned Xanga to move over to FB, and Xanga became like a ghost town quite quickly, where they at one point at over 40 million bloggers! But in late 2010, largely due to some completely unexpected relationship and legal issues, I was advised to do what I had decided to do several weeks earlier — delete my FB account. God, that hurt at first. However, as time has gone by, you know what? I don’t miss that damn drama one bit! I’m SO happy not to be on FB. That said, I still missed the daily connections, at least with the few people I cared about.

Most of you probably know about Twitter; who doesn’t? I joined Twitter in December 2009 and have been tweeting away ever since, mostly about useless crap. I have no idea why I have any followers at all. It’s still fun though, cause I have run across some really interesting people, most recently a cool girl up in NYC named Athena E. Stone who loves Queen possibly as much as I do, even at her young age. I really like that. I’m still on Twitter, but it just doesn’t appeal to me like other other social net working sites have.

So, that brings us to Google+. Please God, let it be the true social networking site everyone says it will be, the one of my dreams! Let it be as awesome as possible! You have to admit, while Google owns the Internet like Microsoft owns PCs, they’ve consistently failed in their weak social networking experiments, such as Orkut, a site I joined after leaving FB, since I was desperate for some sense of community. I still have a profile there, but I only know a few others who do and it’s mostly Brazilians for some odd reason.

There have also been other social networking sites I was talked into joining at one point or another. Hi5 was one. Gag. Terrible. Did not stay there very long. I can’t even remember the others. So I guess I’ll end by touching on the “niche” social networking sites, the ones that are theme-based and aren’t “true” social networking sites in the sense that FB is. My favorite is the professional networking site, LinkedIn. Wonderful site, great business plan, wildly successful, especially for what it is and is meant to be. There are now other professional networking sites, at least one of which I was invited to join, did and promptly left. No comparison.

There are literary sites too. Goodreads might be best known, but I never liked that site and quickly grew to hate it for so many reasons. One thing that irritated the hell out of me was that several of my books were on that site, owned by and reviewed by various members and users. The thing that truly pissed me off was when one of my books got a bad review by some asshole in some Middle Eastern country I can no longer remember, who admitted in his stupid review that he hadn’t even READ my book, but it sounded stupid so he was giving it a 1 out of 5! WTF? Are you shitting me??? Bye Goodreads. I had a gazillion friends or whatever they’re called there, and I didn’t care about any but maybe 20 of them. A far better literary site, I believe, is LibraryThing, which I think actually preceded Goodreads in its existence, but for some reason, has never caught on as much. Maybe that’s cause it started out strictly as a personal library cataloging site, but it expanded as time went by and I think it’s excellent.

Well, there are a bunch of other blogging sites, and I’ve obviously joined one here — WordPress — while still not having abandoned Xanga. I also occasionally blog on my Red Room author site, but that’s not too frequently. And I’m sure I’ve missed so many other blogging and social networking sites I’ve seen and tried out over the years, but I’ll stop now as I’ve gone on much longer than I intended to (and it’s long past time for breakfast!), so back to my original topic, Google+. How many of you reading this are on it, and what do any of you reading this think will happen with it? Will it be a Twitter killer, like many expect, or even an eventual (possible) FB killer, like many people hope? Or will it merely be Google’s final attempt at getting social media right for once? I want to know. Please, please leave any comments you might have about this. Cheers!

4 thoughts on “Google+ (and my social networking history…)

  1. I joined xanga way back when because it was “the” place to blog. I have tried the other blogging sites, but none have the community feel that xanga has. I like that a lot (sorry, wordpress!). I even had a myspace back in the day and of course, I still log into Facebook once in a blue moon.

    Google + is very cool. If only my friends weren’t so paranoid about social networking, it could be a lot of fun. I do hope to see some of my longtime Facebook friends join Google +, but I’m not holding my breath. Most of them barely post. Party poopers. Oh well, time for me to make some new friends, eh?

    The climate on Facebook during the election was simply unbearable!!


  2. Lesley

    I joined Xanga as a couple of my RL friends actually blogged there. I stopped blogging there as someone used to log in just to read what I wrote and would take everything apart bit by bit and question me endlessly about it. I enabled log-in block or whatever it’s called, they created a login just so they could read. After a while it was just too emotionally draining to keep doing that so I stopped. I also have blogs that are on LJ, WP and Blogger however I liked the community feel of Xanga.

    I was reticent about joining FB as the people who lured me to places like Hi5, ended up abandoning after a few months and yet I was still getting inundated with emails from Hi5 about logging in and finding people that I eventually left also and never went anywhere else they sent me invites for. I had a Myspace account and it was alright until they allowed people to customise their pages with backgrounds and scripts that meant that you couldn’t see anything and which took forever to load. The main draw/attraction for FB was to catch up with some old friends from HS. That was great especially when you could have FB set up to not have you appear in someone’s friends list, after that upgrade FB quickly lost it’s charm for me. I still hop on every few days but it’s not the same anymore.

    I have a twitter feed however I rarely post things on there and most of what I use twitter for is condensed news updates and that works fine for me. Most of my friends don’t have anything insightful or moderately interesting (you being one of the rare exceptions) to say in 140 characters so either I don’t get their feeds or they just don’t arrive to my phone.

    I received from G+ invite from the same person who invited me to Gmail way back in the early days. One of the major concepts that I like with FB, Xanga, Myspace and Twitter are being able to determine if you set it up that way who are your friends/followers etc which (and correct me if I’m wrong) G+ doesn’t offer. It seems that anyone can follow you on G+ regardless of whether you want them to. In theory you can restrict what they see, and I’m sure a lot of people like seeing who is following them however that reminds me of some sort of online lurkers. That one kid from HS who didn’t belong to your group yet stood on the fringes hoping to get close enough to hear some juicy tidbit but you may inadvertently disclose.

    I don’t have a lot of people following me or in my circle of friends on G+ and that’s somewhat intentional. I have way too many friends on FB (unlike others on there, I don’t relish in high numbers) which is why unless someone has my gmail address they’ll never find me on G+. That being said, one of the things I do like about G+ is that from the start you can put people into circles from the start unlike FB where you would have to set that up (and I have). Thus far my feeds from G+ have been quiet but that could also be due to the lack of people and the fact that these individuals don’t post nonsense all day long. It will be interesting to see what format G+ takes going forward and whether they’ll offer some sort of online games you can play or not. For now while I’m quite liking the simple and clean look of G+ and a little cautious about some of the privacy/security concerns I’m neither for nor against it, I’m just in a holding “wait and see” pattern.

    I do have a Goodreads (GR) account and when you first mentioned LibraryThing (LT) I went to check it out. By this time I already had a GR account that I had been using quite extensively and the major drawback for me was the only 200 free books and I would have needed to pay for LT. When one isn’t working and don’t have spare cash laying around that was a big turn off for me. I have several friends on Goodreads, some I know IRL, others I met via Xanga and others who I just know via GR as we share similar reading tastes and one of the major pulls for me is seeing what my friends have read and what they have to say about these books and discovering other authors I didn’t know about. Much like Amazon people can put any comment on there about any book whether they’ve read it or not. If someone says they don’t like a book and will admit to not having read it, I don’t give their opinion much weight. Some people just want to feel self-important I guess. Anyway, I use GR to keep track of which books I have read and which books I want to read and that’s mostly all that I use it for.

    Apologies for the long response!


  3. I love Google+! Since I’m a pretty big Google user–mail, calendar, blog, etc.–I like the integration. Plus, to echo you, I love the circles on Google+. And, you know, I’m simply drawn to everything that is new, shiny, and interesting.


  4. MJ

    I was on Xanga first, then Facebook, where I’ve reconnected with a whole host of friends from the way-back machine. I try to ignore the drama, in favor of light posts with little substance. I’ve stayed on Xanga, dabbled on Twitter (but seriously, who wants to follow ME?…) and have set up Google+ but so far only have two people in my “circles”… guess it’ll take a while.


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