I think the oldest internet service I use is Hotmail. It is for no reason other than that my email address is like my home address; I just can’t be bothered to change it. Through Hotmail though, I learned that good ol’ MSN Messenger had been ditched by Microsoft in favour of Skype. Which I think is a smart move, Skype is the number one VOIP service.
It made me a little nostalgic, thinking back to nights wasted chatting to friends, so proud that I knew all the emoticon shortcuts by heart. It then led to recalling MySpace and the realisation that, yes, I’ve been using Facebook now for 5 years. Five whole years!
Facebook first fell into my lap in December of 2007. Having just digitised my parents wedding photos from Kodak slides, my sister insisted I join to share them. Once the pictures were up, there was only one last thing left to do: update my status for the first time. After much personal deliberation, I settled on: “(Penelope) is wondering where the ants in her room are coming from!”
In retrospect, perhaps I should have waited and begun with a simple “Merry Christmas!” on Christmas morning.
Facebook has held the trophy for some years now. Eclipsing MySpace in what felt like a matter of months, Facebook is now a social machine. Many have tried to take a slice of the pie, Google the most notable. And it got me thinking: what is the difference between Google+ and Facebook anyway? A social networking site is a social networking site… aren’t they the same?
Well, no. I have joined Google+ twice. Once in the beta phase thinking I’d jump ship for sure, and then again a month ago. I re-joined at the suggestion of Rubies co-creator Noni, and quickly thought that I’d use it every day. It was so… smooth! I had even re-joined at an exciting time; Google Communities had just been unveiled and people were joining up to all sorts of interest groups all over the place!
Within minutes I was part of many communities kindly suggested by Google and was taken in by their gliding pages. I thought then that yep, I’m a “Googler”. It was also easy to set up the privacy settings for sharing with others.
The main advertising grab for Google+ against Facebook is that as you add friends, you choose a ‘circle’ for them to go into. You can make as many circles as you like and name them in any way. For example I have “Work Colleagues” who is anyone in the office. But if I have a work gripe that I don’t necessarily want my boss to see I have set up a circle called “Work Crew”. These are people who I am much closer to than the rest.
I have to admit, it is much easier to pick and choose who you want to share what with on Google+ than Facebook. Why? Because you set them up from the start. Instead of being overwhelmed by having to sort 100+ people into lists that are tucked away in the shadows, you are starting out with placing a few friends into a few groups. Then the circles grow before your very eyes.
But two days after re-joining, I gave up. The communities I’d joined were just junk, and the fact that constantly seeing posts from people I don’t even know was boring for me.
The keyword there is “me”, as I still see Google’s worth. I use social networking to keep in touch with family and friends, all of whom use Facebook, and not to keep in touch with strangers. After 5 years, I have set Facebook up to be exactly how I want it. I’ve hidden the people who annoyed me and all of my privacy settings are at a state that I feel comfortable with. On top of that, I have 5 years worth of history there and while I’d love to have a much better first ever status, I wouldn’t trade it in.
So who wins? Well, it depends what you want out of social networking. If you want contact with family and friends, then it depends on which service the people you want contact with use. For me it is Facebook, but for some it will be Google+.
However, if you love being inundated with information and links and being exposed to people all over the globe with similar interests? Head on over to Google+ without a doubt. You will not regret your affair with the Explore and Communities functions. It will consume many hours of your time and for good reason.
How do you feel about Facebook and Google+? Have you staged a successful Facebook coup? With Google+ recently becoming the second biggest social media site on the net, do you think it may be worth the jump? Share your thoughts and experiences below!