GooglePlus is closed.
I finished my tweets, joining in with the voices watching G+ close for the final time. I knew that sense of community stayed together right till the very end. I had to go outside and just sit with myself for a bit. Everything had changed months ago but today was like being at the funeral, watching the casket being lowered into the ground and sharing that grief communally. I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t the only one grieving. Yet, outside it’s a bright blue sky. The rest of life moves on but this moment, I can feel–it will define my future for years to come.
This isn’t my first Google closing. I was one the beta testers/contributors to GoogleBuzz. That closing was kinda meh. But then I got in on G+ in beta. One of the first to have a personalized address, brand account, business page, I was all in-a superfan of Google products. At first G+ was meh. I didn’t understand the purpose. I didn’t get the whole circle idea. It wasn’t a blog, or a forum and it didn’t act like a bulletin board. It was something different, I just didn’t know how to make use of its features. So I treated it like Twitter before Twitter came along. I used to advertise and grow my brand off Google and I found that frustrating. I wasn’t getting the engagement I wanted. Facebook was far more rewarding for engagement in those early days. I could see the use of a smaller business having a GooglePlus Business Page. It was tailor-made for that kind of engagement but there was nothing to drive that engagement. It felt, incomplete.
So I pushed my blog posts to G+ and called it a day for a long time. I used the business page as a central website for my businesses. And that was that. I ignored it for years. I assumed that it didn’t have the engagement I was looking for. I assumed it was a good idea that flopped. I assumed that all social media was supposed to cater to driving engagement and business. I assumed that ad revenue and traffic was all I needed to worry about. I was wrong.
GooglePlus was not a well-developed idea for driving business advertisement and engagement. It was instead an unusual design that was community oriented that encouraged engagement as was as disengagement. It was human-centric at its baseline core. GooglePlus was for all of us, to use or not as we choose. And those that choose, found a home unlike all the other social media platforms out there.
Five years ago I came back to GooglePlus and I dove in. I engaged. I contributed. I participated. I shared. I created. I was all in. I didn’t and still don’t care a wit about Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or SnapChat or any of the new ones like MeWe. Losing GooglePlus has broken my heart. I didn’t really think that was possible but now I know it is.
GooglePlus was the framework in which I connected with and found friends all around the Globe through shared interests. And that is the secret to GooglePlus and why us, the die-hard G+ loyal fans were there to the end. It’s why we tried to save it. It wasn’t the framework, not really, but the connections and the ability to make those connections easily that we were trying to save.
Somehow the designers of G+ hit upon the magic formula of community. By allowing the users to create groups and communities while having profile walls and a very nuanced privacy level the circles allowed the seeds of community to flourish. It wasn’t overnight. It was a slow proofing, like bread rising before it goes in the oven.
And yet there is nothing to replace it. I’ve wondered since the announcement that it was closing, just how much data is going to be lost. There is no Library of Alexandra for the Internet. I think such a task may be impossible. I wonder if G+ was becoming such. Today, an untold number of accounts of deceased users are gone, their works, words, thoughts, are all gone. I know of several dozen and I don’t know what to make of the implications of saving them all. I think I could accept a data wipe far easier than to lose the framework where I’ve lost all my connections with friends all around the world.
I do know today marks a new era on the Internet. I know very few realize it and it will take years for the effects to show. Things have changed. I don’t like social media as I had in the past. I don’t trust giant companies for even the most basic of things. I feel lost on the webs. My data is being sold all over the place and I’m making somebody a profit, we all are, and none of us is benefiting from it beyond free access to this and that. I feel the weight of the machine pressing down onto me, turning me into another cog instead of an individual who has dreams, hobbies, interests, and has this growing need to make connections with like-minded individuals. Today, the world feels smaller. Just a few months ago, I had the world at my fingertips. I could connect with someone all across the globe and often did. Today is the day I say goodbye to that era.
Today, I say goodbye to the dream that the Internet would connect humanity together. We did it. For a little while. GooglePlus was the WhitePages of this time, this era. And now it’s gone.
To my fellow GooglePlus’ers:
Fare thee well.
Though the sun sets,
morning will dawn again.
Hold on. Hold to lessons learned.
We are all One.
We are Humanity.
This Blue Planet is our Home.
Remember, We are One.
This is Our Community!