The only consolation prize for the plebs not in the initial bunch is a virtual tour of Circles and Hangouts and Huddles. Then it’s time to log back into Facebook—the real Faceook. Google had better hurry up.
Late yesterday afternoon, just as I was bemoaning Google’s exclusivity–what’s a social network after all with only a handful of people allowed in (well, high school…)—I logged onto Google+ for what seemed like the millionth time. The site asked me for my name and birth date and suddenly I found myself within the walls of Google+. When my co-worker tried, she still could not get in. I wasn’t exactly sure why or how, but less than 26 hours after Hope told me she was “hanging out,” Google had heeded my cries. I was one of the cool kids. +1 for Google.
I may have gotten onto the site because of the online form I filled out. More likely, I got one for the very same reason that I got Hope’s “hanging out” email—she had placed me in one of her Circles.
A disclaimer on my Google+ screen explained the situation to me: “You’re part of a small group of people who are helping to test Google+. When you share something with people who are not yet able to use Google+, they will receive it via email but won’t be able to comment or engage with the content like other Google+ users. They’ll be able to join Google+ as we let more users in over time.” The site seemed to be opening up even further, giving me the capability to invite anyone else. But hours later, the invitation button had mysteriously vanished from the right-hand side of my screen.
My first evening on Google+ was spent organizing friends and family members into Circles and browsing through the photos and information that my fellow early-adopting friends had posted. What I appeals to me most about the site are not the Circles, however, but how clean and professional it looks. For years, Facebook was for the younger generation and now, even as parents and grandparents have logged on, it hasn’t lost some of that youthful stigma. No one wants to be caught on Facebook at work.
The same won’t be true with Google+. Google chat has already had a similar effect on instant messaging, taking programs like AOL Instant Messenger and Yahoo! Chat and tucking them neatly and unobtrusively into your email box. Many offices, far from shunning it, now use Gchat to communicate.
Google+ has the same potential to revolutionize social networking, to force us to realize that sharing images and websites and chatting face to face with email contacts is not a distraction but a twenty-first century reality—just as important as checking email or keeping a calendar, the two tabs that fall next to “Zara+” on the black toolbar that now stretches across the top of my Google Chrome web browser. Apple has synchronized our products, allowing our computers, phones, tablets, and music players to interact and interrelate. Google has now synchronized our social and professional lives.
But, I better get back to Zara+. I’m trying to plan my first Hangout. Let me know if you’re interested. We’ll meet in front of our computer screens at 3:54 PM.