Google+ is a very cool opportunity to “reset” your social network image, as others have pointed out, and so most users are on their best behaviour over there.
Since joining only a couple days ago (add me here, if you dare), I’m approaching 1,000 friends. More than I have on Facebook after years.
Most of the 1,000 new faces are “strangers” — readers who like my blog posts, or longtime subscribers of Outlaw.
Anyway, the level of discourse has been amazing… super refreshing. I don’t remember the last time I’ve been this excited about a social network. Probably the day I joined “The Facebook,” long before it became the slick, soulless, blue-tone corporate ad serving product known as Facebook.
Of course, I believe there are several key reasons why people are acting like reasonable human beings (so far!) on Google+, among them:
1. Rule of law. Your Google+ profile is linked to your Google account, and to your real name. If you start posting dumb stuff and intentionally trolling or harassing others, Google might kick you off — and a ban from Google services is worse than a lifetime ban from the Playboy Mansion. Facebook, on the other hand, is a bit of a free for all: sure, you know the people you’re friends with in real life, but you aren’t always in top form. You post status updates drunk, you’re rude at times, and on some days you wander onto the site and lazily click “Like” a few times, like an exhausted college kid in flip-flops who goes to the monthly floor meeting but doesn’t really care to contribute.
On Facebook, you can always create a new account — just use a new email address.
2. Supervision, without being patronizing. On Facebook, the service routinely insults your intelligence. Are you sure you want to click on a web site outside of Facebook? It might not be safe! Please never leave, we want to serve you as many Zoosk and Match.com ads as humanly possible.
But when you have a real problem, such as your account getting erroneously deactivated or dealing with a stalker, where’s Facebook? Good luck getting a timely response from an actual human being, rather than a link to their FAQ page.
On Google+, there seems to be a high level of engagement with actual Google executives and engineers. Even Sergey Brin is on there — if he had decided to use a pseudonym, you would just assume he’s a friendly photography enthusiast.
If you have a problem with the service, I have no doubt it would be easy to get someone’s attention. There’s even a “Send Feedback” box in the lower right-hand corner, in the same part of the screen where your eyes are accustomed to seeing Facebook’s (until recently) rather buggy chat feature.
3. Google+, like Google, is for information sorting and content discovery. It doesn’t appear primarily designed to lurk on colleagues and classmates, or to brag relentlessly, although if you want to do those things you are certainly able to.
Google+ taps into the power of the collective consciousness — the “hivemind” — with the added layer of real identities. Other online communities (Reddit comes to mind) do a pretty good job of tapping into the hivemind, but with silly usernames and anonymity things can get mean-spirited quickly.
I would be very surprised if Google+ doesn’t hit 500 million users, at the minimum, within a year’s time.
Add me on Google+. I’m deleting my Facebook account next week. Some readers have asked if that’s true. Yes, it is. Why stay with something inferior when a better mousetrap has been invented?