So What the Hell Are We Supposed to Put on Google+?


Here’s the problem: I hate my friends. You do too. I’m using the word “friends” in the social networking sense. Facebook and Flickr “friends.” Twitter and Tumblr Followers.

These people don’t like you, and vice-versa. You probably haven’t even met in real life. They’re limitless binary relationships that we have to choose to share reciprocally with, or not.

I want to keep secrets from those people. At least some of them. Sharing information online with the whole world can be scary. You never know when it’s going to rear its head and bite you. This is where Google+ comes in.

Google+ is great for semi-sharing. You use it to have private discussions with adjustable groups of people. For business meetings and family gatherings and planning your weekend or vacation or career change with a small subset of your social circles.

Semi-sharing is pretty much the killer feature of Google+. It makes it really easy to host a small, quasi-private discussion. I can add individuals or groups depending on who I want involved. And it does this on a per-post, or per-discussion basis. That’s just like real life. Which means you can be real. You can be genuine.

The problem is, nobody’s doing that. Or at least, not enough of us are.

Google+ has this great ability. Yet so far, unless you are a very wonkish person, it is quite boring. Most of the public conversations seem to revolve around Google+ itself. It’s a lot of people gathered in a room together taking turns smelling their own farts. It’s a naval-gazer’s paradise, which is always boring.

Worse, until you get a critical mass of friends on there, the private conversations aren’t exactly thrilling either. I’ve already been circled by almost 2000 people. And I still have yet to see anything interesting.

Give me some blood! Give me some heat, some passion, some life! Let’s use this fucking thing for what it’s capable of, if we’re going to use it at all.

The most compelling thing I’ve seen, in fact, was this post on how to troll Google+ which is, at the very least entertaining and addresses the concept of semi-sharing in a novel way.

Sadly, I feel like my more interesting Internet friends, who tend to be early adopters, have already abandoned Google+. It is already entering the douchebag zone. It took Twitter and Facebook a couple of years to get douched up. Typically the douchebag event horizon depends on a service reaching critical mass, but Google+ hit so many users so quickly that it was Scoble-ized pretty much from the giddyup.

Some of that is due purely to the interface. It lacks information density. It’s all white space and open air, inviting lengthy discourses. And the lengthy discussions tend to attract blowhards. And because blowhards like to weigh in on the bloviations of other blowhards, those conversations rise to the top.

And even more of that is probably due to it being made up almost entirely of dudes. Google+ is pretty much the biggest sausage party on the planet. And like all sausage parties, it means there’s a lot of standing around showing your wiener.

So what should you do on Google+?

Be interesting! Be personal! Take risks and chances and put yourself out there! Talk about your failures, your heartaches, your hopes. Tell me how shitty your boss or your lover or your life is. Tell me about the plans for your new startup. Tell me about the thing you got away with. Tell me your dirty secrets. Tell me you love me. Tell me you hate me. Just fucking tell me.

Post something that isn’t yet another pointless rumination on Google+, or a self-serving link back to your latest fucking post (guilty), or picture of your kid (ditto), or any of those other things that have made Facebook and Twitter so damn tiresome. I don’t want to hear about your fucking brand or your fucking column or your fucking thoughts on what it all fucking means.

If that’s the kind of bullshit you’re posting to Google+; you’re ruining it. Just like you ruined Twitter, you self-absorbed cowardly asshole.

What Twitter and Facebook and Foursquare and the rest failed to take into account is that that we want to have secrets from our friends. We want to share this piece of data—be it a party photo or status update or ultrasound image or current location—selectively with a small tight-knight group. We want to semi share it.

Google+ finally lets you do that. Which has the capacity to make it really, really interesting, and really really vital. So please. Stop being so fucking boring.

I know. It’s scary. I’ll go first.

You can keep up with Mat Honan, the author of this post, on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

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