Jul. 29th, 2011 08:12 am
krikketgirl: (Friends LJ)
[personal profile] krikketgirl
I was reading a book the other day wherein the author--originally from a small Southern town--endeavored to explain the difference between walking down a street at home and in New York City. What she came up with was the idea of a hive mentality, where each member briefly checks in on the other people sharing their sidewalk with a glance and then hurries on. The point isn't to acknowledge the other person, to catch their eye, to communicate with them; the point is to look, see if there is any obstacle or problem in the vicinity, and then to move on.

Hold that thought while I talk about Facebook and Google+. When I first joined Facebook, I didn't anticipate it becoming a big part of my daily routine. But then I discovered that I could link my photos and my blog to it, and connect with people from my family, my church, my workplace, and people I'd met on trips or at church events. As life went on and I became far busier than I had before, my Live Journal suffered while my Facebook blossomed.

Then, recently, Google+ came on the scene, initially trumpeted as "Google's answer to Facebook." Only as soon as I got set up on Google+, I started seeing all these posts about how it's NOT supposed to be like Facebook, and we poor clueless souls who use it simply as a Facebook-style site are deluded and unhip. All of this has resulted in my using Google+ in addition to Facebook, feeling silly for using it simply for its privacy options, and trying to figure out whether it would be better to just return to my hermit-like cave and start sending smoke signals to my nearest and dearest.

Let's jump back to the hive mentality. Is it friendly? Does it make you feel all warm and collectivistic? No, not at all! But it's not supposed to. It's supposed to help you get to where you're going effectively and to alert you to potential problems on the horizon. It's not a rich form of communication, because all that's needed is a shallow form of communication. This, to me, is what Facebook has been about.

Facebook is supposed to be somewhat shallow. It's about being part of a hive of people, all of whom you know, but not all of whom are as close as others. Facebook lets you get a bite-sized glimpse into their world, an idea of the big patterns in their life and globally, multiple times a day or week. You decide, from there, if you want to get deeper into each person's life.

Live Journal--and other blogging platforms--are a richer form of communication. I say more, and say it more personally. Maybe you read it, maybe you don't. But when you do read and comment, and I comment back, we can build relationships. This is something I've been missing about blogging, and why I'm coming back to it more intentionally.

So where does this leave Google+? For me, it's an awkward thing to use. I don't really have time or energy to go seeking out new content by people I don't know. I like being able to filter posts--that's one big "plus" for me--but I rarely feel a need to use it. It's shiny and new and feels exciting, but it's not meeting either my need for deeper communication or my "hive" need to check in on my acquaintances to see what's happening.

Perhaps I'm missing the picture: what's your take on social networks? What do you use? And why?
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