I wanted to log on to Google+. I swear I did. But the thought of it made me tired.
I recently wrote a piece for MediaShift on the perils of tweeting interview requests. Like I’ve done for past pieces and many of the posts on my blog College Media Matters, I carried out all the expected social media promotion.
I retweeted the MediaShift tweet that announced the piece’s premiere on the site. I posted the link on my Facebook profile page as a status update. I dropped it onto Digg and recommended it on StumbleUpon. I placed a chunk of it on my blog with a referral link. I responded to some comments. I even emailed a few friends and colleagues with a heads-up and accompanying bitly link. And then there was G+.
A few hours after the post went up, I received an email confirming MediaShift executive editor Mark Glaser had hyped the piece in a note on Google+. Moments later, someone responded to it. It was a great motivation to respond or post something on there myself.
An Internal Enough-is-Enough Battle
But then something funny happened. I sighed out loud. I got the dreary feeling that often comes midday when my body begs for a catnap. I simply couldn’t bring myself to sign on to the service. I let it go, shrugging, thinking I’d get to it later. But I never followed up.
On one level, the response continues to strike me as silly. I’m sure the promo-post would have taken a moment or two tops. And I have nothing against G+. On the contrary, I signed up like every other wannabe tech geek when Google first rolled it out.
I played with the whole Circles thing. I invited a few family members, colleagues, and even students — something I’ve avoided on Facebook. I created a profile I must now have floating in cyberspace in at least a dozen slightly different iterations. And I have been on the service here and there, mostly just to see what’s what.
But as much as I want to really dive into Google+, I admit I am fighting an internal enough-is-enough battle. As Glaser mentioned on a recent Mediatwits podcast, “There are a few things that are slightly better [than Facebook and other existing social media platforms], but what’s really making a huge difference? You know, that’s the problem. There’s nothing really groundbreaking.”
A Social Media Step Too Far?
In that respect, is it possible that G+, at the moment, is simply a social media step too far? Are there only so many daily destination-and-connection sites a person can invest time and effort overseeing?
As Forbes.com contributor Paul Tassi wrote last month within a column doubling as a eulogy for the service, “The fact is, very few people have room to manage many multiple social networks … since there is only so much time in the day to waste on the Internet. Add in Google+, effectively a duplicate of Facebook, and there just isn’t space for it.”
I am writing to second Tassi’s declaration: Google+ is dead. At worst, in the coming months, it will literally fade away to nothing or exist as Internet plankton. At best, it will be to social networking what Microsoft’s Bing is to online search: perfectly adequate; fun to stumble onto once in awhile; and completely irrelevant to the mainstream web.
To be clear, I do not buy the beta argument anymore. G+ still being in beta is like Broadway’s “Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark” still being in previews. It has premiered. Months have passed. Audiences have tried it. Critics have weighed in. It is a show — just not a very entertaining one.
Worse Than a Ghost Town
As it stands, my Circles are sparse. The stream of updates has basically run dry — reduced to one buddy who regularly writes. My initial excitement about signing on and inviting people to join me has waned. Nowadays, I apparently get tired just thinking about it.
Take my recent MediaShift piece. Less than a week after its posting, more than 300 tweets and retweets linked to it. Between my blog teaser and its MediaShift placement, it got hyped on Facebook by dozens of users. Close to 50 people StumbledUpon it on my blog. On Google+, meanwhile, it was mentioned five times.
Omaha World-Herald columnist Rainbow Rowell says it best, noting, “It’s a not-vicious-enough-to-be-interesting circle: Nobody posts on Google+ because nobody posts on Google+. My Google+ home page is worse than a ghost town. It doesn’t even feel haunted.”
EDITOR’S NOTE (9/23/11): For more on Google+, listen to Dan Reimold and Frederic Lardinois as guests on The Mediatwits podcast, discussing the pros and cons:
And read this piece by Jen Lee Reeves about the positive side of Google+:
Dan Reimold is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Tampa. He writes and presents frequently on the campus press and maintains the student journalism industry blog College Media Matters, affiliated with the Associated Collegiate Press. His first book, Sex and the University: Celebrity, Controversy, and a Student Journalism Revolution, was published in fall 2010 by Rutgers University Press.