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Why you should switch to Google+

Kelsey Dockery

 

On June 28, Google launched a campaign to kill Facebook.

It’s a story that has received continuous coverage from major news outlets ever since, and for good reason – despite being an “invite-only” service, Google+ reached 25 million users in just one month. It took Facebook three years to achieve numbers like that.

That’s certainly impressive, but the majority of your Facebook friends probably aren’t among those 25 million. 

Despite its much-publicized launch, most of the people you know aren’t feeling the need to switch to Google’s new social network. 

And why should they? Two months later, Facebook is still where most people are, and social networks are all about socializing with people you know. Unless the people you care about are on Google+, there’s little incentive for Facebook loyalists to switch.

So why should you start using Google+?

I could name dozens of small reasons why Google+ is better than Facebook (the interface is cleaner, chat actually works, the “Hangouts” feature is like an awesome version of Skype), but Google’s “circles” are the definitive feature that makes Google+ an inherently better social tool than Facebook.

Facebook relationships are not like real-world relationships

There are hundreds, even thousands of people who are connected to you in some way. 

You have co-workers, parents, best friends, classmates, favorite celebrities, cousins, acquaintances and teammates. 

There are friends who you feel comfortable inviting into your home, and there are friends who you simply wave to when you pass them on the way to class. The list could go on, but you get the gist.

All of these people are not equally close to you, so you communicate with all of them in different ways. You wouldn’t show baby pictures to the random person who sits next to you in Pol. 101, and you wouldn’t bother acquaintances with inside jokes you’ve created with your closest friends.

Facebook’s “friends” system does not reflect the intricate and subtle differences between the differing types of relationships we share with the people around us. If you post something on Facebook, all of your “friends” see it, even if they only added you as a friend two years ago after having one conversation with you at a party.

Google+’s “circles” changes that.

On Google+, you don’t just “add people as friends.” You add them to one or more “circles” that you create. Then, when posting a status update, uploading pictures or sharing a funny Youtube video, you choose which circles to share with.

Here’s the thing: other people can see if they’ve been added to your circles, but they can’t see which circle they’re in. If that smelly guy from Math 261 tries to add you, you can just throw him in a circle labeled “creepers,” and then never share anything with him. 

He’ll never know the difference. You can also view your stream without ever seeing posts from people in your theoretical creepers circle.

In my Google+, I’ve created an “Ole Miss” circle. I also have a larger “friends” circle that many people in my Ole Miss circle are also included in, but if I share something specifically about Oxford, I’ll only send it out to my Ole Miss circle. The people in my hometown are never bothered by it, and my Oxford-based friends will all see the information in their stream.

We all know it’s a terrible idea to add your parents as friends on Facebook, but it’s totally safe to add them on Google+. 

Just toss them into a “parents” circle and never share anything too personal with them. They’ll be satisfied because they’ll see that you added them to your circles, and you avoid getting busted for sharing inappropriate pictures.

Since you can add people to your own circles without them ever adding you back, you can toss interesting celebrities into a “following” circle. 

Then you’ll get all of their posts, and they won’t be bothered by your own mundane updates. That’s right –– Google+ is trying to take on Twitter too.

None of that matters if more people don’t join Google+.

Google+ may be unequivocally better than Facebook (hint: it is), but that means nothing if it isn’t populated and thriving. 

Social networks live and die by their active-user counts and Google+ isn’t immune to the fate suffered by Myspace and Friendster. 

So here’s my plea: give it a shot, look at some of Google’s tutorial videos on Youtube to get a full understanding of how the service can be used, and invite your friends.

Type this link into your web browser to get your own invite to Google+ –– it’s on me (http://goo.gl/EgzRZ)!

That link is only good for the first 150 people who visit it, so hurry!