2019-04-25 Remembering Google Plus

People are thinking about G+ and its demise and how they feel about it. It all started with Patrick Stuart asking the question, How Do You Feel About G+ Being Gone? His own answer: I don't miss it. Alex Chalk wrote Do I Miss Google Plus? The Answer May Surprise You.

As for myself, I also don’t miss it. I used to read a lot of G+. These days I’m happy that I don’t “have” to read so much. I was reading too much. I noticed my attention span shrinking. Did I read, did I skim, or did I just scroll? I was getting impatient with longer blog posts. I don’t have the time, I’d tell myself.

Late 2017 or early 2018 I decided to leave Google+. Politics was getting me down. Like Patrick, I felt the collective madness of the USA spreading, and it wasn’t good. I needed to get away from that. But there were also smaller things. I hated link spam: people posting a link to their blog posts to every Community vaguely related. As a moderator for one of these communities, I’d see some of these posts in the moderation queue and I’d just delete them all. If I checked the profiles of the people that were posting these on-topic but still spam-to-me posts to multiple communities, I just felt disappointed.

Perhaps I was reading it as a sign of the crass capitalism that has been eating our community. People have Patreons instead of blogs. They sell stuff on Drive Thru RPG instead of posting it on their blog, they have effectively joined the spammers of our world, posting in ten communities at little inconvenience to them but at the cost of hundreds of people having to see the repeating messages and tuning out. Everybody hustling all the time, competing for my attention, it just put me off. Perhaps it put me off most of all because it was a constant reminder of where our society is going.

I did not feel joy.

In short, I needed a change.

And then there’s also the ethical component of our social media being provided by one of the data krakens of our time. In the age of Snowden, that seemed like the wrong thing to do. The USA is snooping on the rest of world (and shamefully, the secret services of the rest of the world would love nothing more than do the same thing if only they could), using and abusing our data the big companies that rule the main streets of the Internet have collected and stored about us – Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple – and here I am using a non-free client on my phone, feeding the machine that bites me.

I felt dirty.

And so I moved. I made the conscious decision to move, to drop the network of over 2000 followers on Google+ and try and rebuild elsewhere. I had done it before. I had a Twitter account and dropped it. I had a Facebook account and dropped it. I knew I could always rebuild. It would probably be smaller, but I already knew that I wasn’t enjoying what I had, so what was there to lose except for numbers?

I joined Mastodon because the decentralised nature promised decentralised moderation. If you don’t like your local moderators, you can move elsewhere. That was better than what Twitter offered. It was new. It was queer. It was different.

That’s also why I didn’t follow anybody to MeWe. I didn’t want to join another silo. If a Mastodon instance goes down, I can import the list of people I’m following elsewhere and resume where I left off. And Mastodon is free software. It has an API that’s documented. I was able to write tools for it: a Bitlbee plugin, a Mastodon archiver, and other small tools here and there. Not everybody needs to be able to write tools for my social media. But nobody was able to do it for Google+. Nobody is doing it for MeWe. And I’m no longer interested in this world.

I decided to give Diaspora a try, too. For the moment, however, Mastodon is simply my happy place. I understand the user interface. I use an old app and it works.

So, do I miss G+? I loved the blogs of the OSR back when everything was new to me. I remember Sham and Michael and James and Brendan and Ramanan and P and JB and Jeff and Delta and Philotomy and others writing about this and that and the other and it was all new to me and I loved it and I wrote about it, too. This conversation then moved to Google+ and I followed. But after some time I also felt that I had learned what I had needed to learn, I was happy playing my new found game, I felt I had said all that I had to say.

And it passed away. G+ disappeared, the ship sank, the written record lost, gobbled up, inaccessible to future historians unless you were lucky enough to be gobbled up by the Internet Archive and unless we are all lucky enough for the Archive to survive into the far future. Indeed, another darkness spell has been cast.

What are we to do?

Sit, play, write, laugh, share, talk.

Just don’t join the silos. The blogosphere needs you.

The blogs still have a lot to learn. How to connect better. How to make sharing easier. How to make linking easier. I mean, it’s easy to make a link, but ideally we’d like to be notified if somebody else joins the conversation and links to us. We’d like to get notified if somebody likes what we write or comments on it elsewhere. And all these things and more were done for us by social media and we need to teach our blogs how to do it. Until we do, and until they all do, there’s nothing but doing it ourselves. Link, and share, and recommend, send mails, leave comments.

The open web and the blogs are our best bet, for now.

I don’t miss Google+. Not one bit.

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Comments

Nice post, I feel about the same. Not for G+ as I did not use this network much, but I totally agree for other “silos” 😀 On Mastodon, my “community circle” is much smaller, but much much more helpful and more interactive.

Peter Kotrčka 2019-04-26 05:30 UTC


I didn’t use Google+ too much after the “Nymwars”, but it was nice to leave it behind. What I did use of it was problematic at best, and detrimental at worst for me. Especially the level of political talk. I just wish Mastodon hadn’t fallen down the same rabbit hole of politics among much of my circles.

– TeraDyne Ezeri 2019-04-26 16:12 UTC


Luckily I’ve been avoiding the kind of political talk that gets me down.

As for the number of people I am conversing with on Mastodon, I think that sadly my RPG circle is still very, very small. There is practically no conversation outside three or four people. And in the long term I think it’s too small, to be honest. My non-RPG account fares better, and right now I feel my Mastodon enthusiasm waning a bit. We’ll see how it goes. I’m starting to warm up to blogging again!

Ah, and enjoy Vienna, Peter! I’m planning on visiting family in Vienna for a few days in July. 🙂

– Alex Schroeder 2019-04-26 20:28 UTC


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