In case you haven’t heard, there is a new social networking site in town. That’s right — Google is taking its internet omnipresence to a new level with the Google+ project, described as “real life sharing, rethought for the web” on their website.
One of the company’s motivations, undoubtedly, is born out of a desire to expand their user base. In the world of Internet money-making, social networking sites are most profitable; companies want to invest in advertising in the virtual world.
Here at The Campanil, not many of us have crossed over into the brand new world of Google+. Maybe that’s because some of us haven’t been invited. Whatever. We don’t care. Most of us are still happy clicking our lives away on Facebook.
There is one Google+ feature that may out-cool Facebook: the “Hangout” feature, which allows users to video chat with multiple friends at one time and to even watch YouTube videos together. But does a feature like Hangout really make Internet-sharing more similar to “real life” sharing? Sorry to burst your bubble, Google+, but Hangout still involves being firmly seated in front of a computer.
Social networking media has already permanently blurred the lines between real and virtual identities. Some of us do fall into behavior patterns that are very unlike our in real life (aka “IRL”) selves while Facebooking. For example, although we may be journalists, we do value and respect the privacy of others and ourselves. Yet online, we often find ourselves transforming into the creepiest of lurkers.
Maybe we’re not quite ready to trade in that creepy lurking — clicking through photo albums of strangers and scrolling down the Walls of a Friends’ acquaintances — for video chatting with groups of people we actually know. Some of us have yet to even hop on the Tumblr bandwagon.
The fact of the matter is, we’re going to need some time to warm up to the idea of yet another online profile. The voices in Google+’s promotional videos are soothing and inviting, but they don’t have us comfortable enough to click “Deactivate” on our Facebooks.
Our love-affair with Facebook just isn’t over yet. Sure, we’ve had our fights, but Facebook is constantly updating its interface, so our relationship never feels too stale. With its over 500 million user base, Facebook is now the “third largest country,” and its user rate is still increasing daily.
And let’s not forget part of the reason many of us first “got connected” via Facebook: the Myspace romance had already gone sour. Facebook may sometimes make us feel guilty, wrong or just plain creepy, but we’re not ready to break up.
In the meantime, we’ll still be Googling, and we’ll probably be Googling Google+.