Saturday, August 13, 2011
The interweb is full of social media sites--all of which claim to offer some feature or functionality that the others don't--but anyone who's signed into Facebook or Twitter in the last half decade is well aware of the 'overshare' phenomenon that has resulted from the innumerable social media sites and the ubiquity of 'share', 'like' and 'Tweet' buttons across all manner of web pages that allow us to share everything we do, think, eat, and see.
The underlying issue with oversharing is one that now seems present in a slough of digitized media, not just social. Consider music. A decade or so ago, if you asked anyone what their favourite kind of music was, they'd probably be able to give you one, two or maybe three genres that they preferred. Nowadays, any time you ask someone what their favourite type of music is, they're hard pressed to limit the list to 10 genres they enjoy, and in most cases folks will simply revert to choosing music they don't like instead of those that they do enjoy in order to save their breath and precious tweeting time.
The issue here is ubiquity. Gone are the days of lengthy searches for anything we may need. Music, photos, news, help, random facts; they're all available instantly and in most cases, right on the first page of a Google search. This staggering groundswell of information and access has left people in a position of electronic plenty; one that allows them the ability to dispense with the need to simplify and make hard choices about the stuff they consume on-line. People don't download single tracks any more--not when artists's entire discographies are available in the same number of clicks and storage gets cheaper faster than even gas prices can climb.
The same seems to go for sharing within social media. People have so many choices for where, how and when to share that more often than not their thumbs can be found whirring away in a blur of bird anger and txtese, producing a seamless stream of updates that let no cables sleep.
The solution? Well, just maybe it's Google+.
The beauty of Google+ isn't that instant mountain-top scream to everyone you know--though you do still have that ability--it's the idea that you may only want to blitz certain friends at one time, and save some of that thumb strength for other stuff you do, like buttoning shirts... or hitch-hiking. The ability to choose which 'circles' of your friends on Google+ you'd like to share things with is a boon for those of us that only want certain friends to know certain things. Much like real life, you can choose to only tell your college buddies that you just drank your height in beer, while only your family gets to hear that you just bought new pillows for the guest bed. So in reality, it's not that you'll be sharing less, it's just that to everyone else it'll appear that you'e sharing less because they're not getting every single post you squeeze out in a fit of anger on the subway or waiting in line for a coffee. The result: happier friends and peace of mind knowing that even your most random, cryptic and politically incorrect musings will find a home on the vast expanse that is the digital
The advent of this ability to select who you want to share with will mean a couple things for those who choose to jump on to Google+. People who have become much better at filtering what they share on Facebook or other mass-sharing platforms will inevitably lose a lot of that inner censorship as previously 'unsharable' items are now totally fair game as long as you click the right circles. Also, it will be interesting to see if the classic mantra still holds true that "secrets don't make friends". Will people start to lose friends because of the lack of updates they're sending? All of those items shared en-mass that populated people's feeds and reminded them you still cared will now come to a halt, but is this necessarily a bad thing? Studies show that we can only really keep meaningful close friendly contact with around 50 people, any more than that and those relationships start to exist solely in cyberspace and in turn, degrade to mere acquaintances.
Perhaps Google+ is the answer to our 'overshare' problem, or it could just as easily be a smack in the face to those of us who smile proudly at our giant friend counts on Facebook. Only time will tell if Google has pumped out just another carbon copy of a tried and tested model, or if they continue to put the G in Genius.
What do you think?
Try out Google+ here
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