So Google+ is to be shuttered in a few days. After an undisclosed data leak was finally uncovered last year, Google’s like “Fuck it! So what if Facebook bleeds out users’ personal data like a gushing arterial wound every other month. Their social media platform turns a profit. Ours doesn’t. It’s just not worth it.”
Google+ was like Betamax compared to Facebook’s VHS; a superior product in every way except popularity — which also happened to be one of the features I liked about it. Way less human garbage to wade through that becomes the inevitable result of popular destinations because people suck. Compared to the trash talking on Twitter and massive disinformation campaigns sweeping Facebook, Google+ was more or less an unspoiled, pristine wilderness.
The page layout was a cross between Twitter’s clean, uncomplicated design and Pinterest’s multi-column format, maximizing screen space and minimizing scrolling.
Images rendered larger and more clearly than they probably ever will on Facebook. Not to mention, animated gifs – a recently resurgent relic of the ’90s – were supported from the get-go, long before Facebook began supporting them.
You could organize people you connected with into various “circles” and those you shared posts with could include members of certain circles while excluding others — you know, in case you didn’t want your family or coworkers or whomever to see them and didn’t want to create several discrete accounts to navigate the complex social landscapes of the human experience.
Pages and communities were easy to create, join, fun and engaging. Several injected interesting content into my feed, undiluted by the torrent of gossip that pollutes (or defines?) popular social media. I enjoyed posting and getting feedback on doodles and pieces I’d occasionally share with the Illustration community whose members’ work regularly decorated my feed.
Oh, and there were no ads. I assume that Google planned on selling ad space at some now foregone point in a future that will never be but in the meantime it was nice to give adblock a rest.
It wasn’t all great. The use of +sign deviating from the more ubiquitous @sign adopted by pretty much every other platform since Twitter for mentions was a bad call. Integrating that plus sign into the already unmemorable product name was a worse call. Also, no dark theme like Twitter and Reddit have to spare my eyeballs.
But Google+ was an underrated all-but-hidden gem. A flash in the pan that will be missed, nonetheless.