Today I noticed something odd when I clicked over to Google+. I noticed that I hardly use it.
That, in and of itself, isn’t particularly noteworthy. But I also noticed that I’ve hardly posted to Facebook or Twitter since signing up for Google+. It’s as if the moment I completed my most recent social media profile, I lost interest in all of them.
(Now, there are factors that have nothing to do with the services: it’s been an unusual couple of weeks. I was unexpectedly away from home for a few days. Out of my routine, I could easily go quiet for a while. But here’s the thing: I had my phone in my hand almost the entire time. Twitter app, Facebook app, G+ app a search away. But I didn’t.)
I have — not a theory — let’s call it a theorito. A little baby theory-like notion that may grow into something more. It’s something like this: the easier it is to share, the less urgent it is to share. The less fun it is to share. Like everything once wonderful and new, it’s routine, and it’s a burden.
The empty page begs us to share. When we join a new service, the begging is very, very loud. It’s a rare reminder: the service needs us. We’ve done this before. We’ve built the profile, started the networks, poked at the new features, had the meta-conversations. We’re over the wonder of it. Each service is a flavorful novelty, not a new food group.
Maybe we even remember that we don’t need to feed the service constantly. We realize with a sigh that feeding it will take time and effort. Maybe we pause and think we only have this option because Google wants to grow its company. That growing Google means conversing with friends as much as possible, perhaps more than we would if Google wasn’t trying to grow. Perhaps we’re using our vitality on something that isn’t particularly vital. Maybe we’re talking because someone asked us to talk.*
I love what I get from the people I’m connected to on Facebook and Twitter, and I like that when I have something I genuinely want to share, I get a response. But I find myself sometimes staring at an input box, thinking “time to update.” And with a brand new service, that input box is sitting on a blank page, just screaming for something to be said. And frankly, I don’t care to hear it scream.
Google+, I’m rooting for you. But put me in the Acquaintance circle. Not a friend, fan, partner, or a regular, at least for now. Thanks for the opportunity to start fresh, to think about this as an old hand, rather than a complete novice. I’ll let you know when I have something to share.
* This is not to say I have anything against Google+. Given the choice, I’d switch entirely from Facebook to Google+ today. I dislike the ethos of Facebook leadership and don’t trust them. I think Zuck and Co. are legalistic, loophole-minded, self-important jerkwads with no sense of history and — despite their massive database of the evidence of human sentiment — little understanding of the parts of human desire that they can’t coax algorithmically. Facebook is handy, my friends and family are there, and I’m happy to let Facebook use me as part of their product so long as I get more than I give, which I believe is the case. But if G+ proves solid and safe and grows enough for me to sign off FB entirely, that’s great. I’d love to see Facebook wither, and to see Facebook’s privileged investors become acquainted with the concept of loss. (This is not to say I trust Google implicitly. They seem more robotic than human, but better a robot than a human who lies to you or hides the details of your agreement.)