I have been on Google+ for at least three weeks now, and if you haven't been a part of this so-called big threat to the Facebook cheese by now because you haven't got an invite or you haven't been bothered, this is what you might have missed. All of the following are statuses are a representative sample of the statuses by friends and various randomers through this apparently 'revolutionary' social network:
"Oh yes, forgot about this. Hello."
"I'm really not getting this yet. Do I have a username or is it just my name?!"
"My phone is playing up. Thought I'd share this with the ten of you I have on Plus rather than doing the sensible thing and Facebooking it."
"On an unrelated note, the app takes up so much space and is so dodgy that I'm deleting it and going offline again. Byes!"
...and that's it.
I kept thinking that maybe it hadn't taken off in my immediate circle of friends. I mean, the internet has been creaming about the potential of this site and how it might make Facebook topple over. Bloomberg did a piece just this morning shouting about how in the near future Google+ might surpass Twitter as well as potentially signing up nearly "22 per cent of online US adults". Journalists splurge out the same articles about what it all means for the world of media and there are even guides in the Huffington Post about how to make 'the big switch'.
But I just don't get it. After only three weeks of using Google+ my only conclusion is that the thing is utter utter utter crap and nobody really uses it.
Fine all sites take a while to get off the ground, and all new and essential things social media and computer programmes that end up taking over our lives have the initial WTF moment (Microsoft Word 2007. Need I say more?), but when you start to use the service you instantly find an element of it addicting enough to keep coming back enough until you crack it and it cracks you. But from what I have been seeing, a lot of people have arrived thinking that it would be like a cool nightclub, seen that it has been decorated by what seems to be the creativity of a 34-year-old accountant called Nigel, downed the free shot on entry and pissed off.
What is so different about this place that makes me think that I should ride it out?
"There are circles. You get to control who sees your personal information, whether it would be friends, family or colleagues. You just plop people in circles so they can only see so much of what you say" technology geeks would respond.
I can understand having filter options on social networking sites so that your parents don't get to see exactly what you have been up to with your friends (because of various photos of you being drunk, feeling people up in nightclubs etc etc), but I don't understand the share stuff with colleagues element. My philosophy is, unless you love your colleagues so much that you would go down to the pub with them or they should be a person who you feels can get tom know your personality enough so you've got not much to hide YOU SHOULD NOT ADD THEM ON PERSONAL THINGS LIKE FACEBOOK IN THE FIRST PLACE.
By being able to write status updates for just your colleagues only on Google+ what the bloody hell do you think you end up just telling them?:
"Jill is hanging round the photocopier. Come and say hi."
"The only thing that has been keeping me going today is our amazing productivity levels."
"Profit! Profit! Profit! Profit! Profit!"
Related to this is what seems to be the stupid 'choose who deserves to be in what circles' feature. Are they a FRIEND? Are they an ACQUAINTANCE? Give over yourself. The only people who I think this would be attractive to would be the shallow individuals who in the ye old days, used to spend their days ranking their Top Friends in the MySpace side bar according to whether they have had an argument with them or not.
"Oh don't write Google+ off now because you get to use VIDEO CALLS with all of your friends."
Well that makes a chuffing bit of difference if you are anyway outside the M25. The visual quality on general video chat sites like Skype always looks like your best friend is about to be put through a blender on the best of days anyway.
"Oh!" says a man who likes to make it seem that you're an idiot because he's more techie than you. "This is a TESTING stage. And it isn't ready for the general release yet, so that's why ot doesn't look and feel perfect."
Testing is when you put dummies into a car and hit it against a wall. Testing is when you launch something into space with no-one on board in case it explodes in the stratosphere. Testing isn't when you admit thousands upon thousands of people, with what seems to be an unlimited amount of invites, in the hope that one billionth of the membership asks to change the font to lime green.
This whole testing thing is a publicity stunt, pure and simple. It is so the social class can tweet the words "I'M IN" followed by their friends shouting "WHAT'S IT LIKE?" in the hope of generating a buzz. It is also so tonnes of people without invites splurge on large technology sites debating about the potential of Google+ and what it all means. Is Facebook now doomed? Is Google now finally dipping their toe into the social domain? HOW CAN I UTILISE IT BEST TO MAKE IT SEEM THAT I AM AS COOL AND HIP AS POSSIBLE?
If Google+ ends up being something amazing in let's say, three or four years time, I'll join in and see how it goes down. If it grows as a success of some new and necessary features, which so far I find lacking on the site, I will use it as part of my daily life too . But for now I cannot stand the harpy journalism and general chit-chattiness by people who like to make pointless comment about how amazing it will be / is when at the moment Google+ has got the buzz and feel of an A Level Geography exam.
So in three words... not a fan.
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