Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Farewell Google+

It was today at around 12:00 noon Central Daylight Saving Time that Google pulled the plug on Google+. It was a sad day for many Google+ users, particularly those of us who had been there from the beginning. Even at the end Google+ was busy, with more posts than some allegedly more active social media services. While it might surprise some to know this, many Google+ users are experiencing a profound sense of loss at the closure of the social media service, myself among them. For those of you interested in the history of G+, you can read my earlier post on the closure of the site here.

The beta version of Google+ was launched on June 28 2011. I joined Google+ only a few days later, on July 8 2011. It quickly became my favourite social media site of all time. Among other things, Google+ had the best tools for curating photos of any site or app ever. It also had such features as Hangouts, through which one could both chat and videochat. It also had the best organisational tool for people. Quite simply, one organised those he or she followed into circles. Each circle has its own stream, making it easy to keep track of posts.What is more, Google+ had an attractive, easy-to-use interface. It was far superior to nearly any other social media site, Facebook in particular.

Ultimately Classic Google+ was ideal for finding people with similar interests, as well as having meaningful discussions.  More so than other social media sites, Google+ was ideal for long conversations on a variety of topics. The ultimate effect is that many people formed strong, lasting friendships on Google+. I even have one friend who met her husband on Google+. For myself, many of my closest friends I first met on Google+. In fact, I think I made more friends on Google+ than on any other social media site except Twitter (and Twitter is probably only because of #TCMParty).  Fortunately given the closure of Google+, most all of the close friends I made on Google+ would connect in other ways (some even have my phone number).

Of course, all of this serves as evidence against Google+'s detractors who claimed it was a "ghost town." Google+ was never a ghost town. It was always much more active than LinkedIn (a ghost town if there ever was one) and, at least in my experience, more active than Facebook. People posted to Google+ the way that they post to Twitter, making multiple posts throughout the day. What is more, one could develop a following on Google+ in a way that one never could on Facebook. When Google+ closed earlier today, I still had 12,444 followers. That is more followers than I have on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn combined.

On November 18 2015 Google introduced a drastic redesign of Google+ called "New Google+". It was on January 24 2017 Google forced New Google+ on all its users. New Google+ lacked many of the features of Classic Google+, and as a result many users left Google+. Despite this, Google+ continued to be very active. At no point was it ever the "ghost town" its detractors claimed it to be. It would remain active until the very end. Last night, with the end looming, there were so many posts to Google+ it was hard to keep up with all of them.

My final Google+ post
This morning Google+ was still functional. I made my last post around 11:00 AM CDT. It was the song "All You Need is Love" by The Beatles and a message letting my fellow G+ users know how much I appreciated them. Sadly, it was about 12:00 noon CDT that Google+ turned out the lights on the web version of Google+. It was later this afternoon that the mobile app stopped functioning. Like many of my fellow Google+ users this makes me very sad. I enjoyed Google+ more than any other social media site and made many good friends there.

As it is, I think the closure of Google+ will ultimately hurt Google in the long run. It is not only because Google+ was an amazing resource for Google. It is because Google has discontinued so many products over the years that many people have probably lost faith in them. Indeed, there are still people who are angry over the closure of Google Reader six years ago. I know I am. I still haven't found another a RSS/Atom feed aggregator I like. In addition to Google+ and Google Reader, Google has shut down such products as Google Page Creator, Picasa, Google Video, and many others. The end result of all these closures, particularly the closures of highly successful products such as Google+ and Google Reader that still had many users when they were closed, is that many people simply no longer trust Google. After all, why start using a new Google product when Google is only going to discontinue it a few years later? Indeed, I have to wonder that I shouldn't find a new home for A Shroud of Thoughts should Google decide to close Blogger. I am glad I don't use Gmail as my primary email, as it occurs to me that Google might decide to close it too...

If one needs no further proof that closing Google+ could hurt Google, I even know a few people who have entirely deleted their Google Accounts because of the closure. I certainly won't go that far (it would mean the end of A Shroud of Thoughts, for one thing....), but there are some Google products I won't be using any longer. I deleted Google Photos from my phone because the only reason I had for using it was to post to, well, Google+. I am sure I am not the only person for whom this was true.

Yesterday, with the closure of Google+ growing near, Google+ users more or less held a wake for the social media service. My friend Mara hosted one last hangout, in which I took part. All of us posted our memories of Google+, our first posts, our favourite posts, and so on. We celebrated a social media site that brought all of us together and that we thoroughly enjoyed. It was earlier this week that one of my friends posted a cartoon (you can see it to the left--I wish I knew who created it, so I could credit them) that sums up the way many of us feel. Google+ wasn't simply a good social media site. It was the best.


KC said...

I had no idea there were so many devoted Google+ users. This was really interesting to read. Sorry you lost it!

Bob Johns said...

I'm going to miss Google+ but will not go the Facebook route still!!

Terence Towles Canote said...

Yeah, Facebook will never be my primary, secondary, or even tertiary social network!