Last week Google launched Google+, a new social platform which many are comparing to Facebook. It is quite different from Facebook or Twitter, though it is clearly inspired by both. If it is to gain broad acceptance and not fade away like Orkut, Buzz and Wave–Google’s past attempts to build a social network–then it needs to be more than just “good enough”. It has to wow its critics. The good news is, Google+ seems to be doing just that. Here’s ten reasons why it deserves success:
Well, it’s been a couple of months since I returned to Facebook & Twitter after my one-month hiatus (plan here
, results here
). Time to reflect on where I’m at now with my social network usage. As you may have guessed from the title & image, it’s not going too well.
I am completely, hopelessly addicted to Facebook. I check it several times a day, eagerly checking for new notifications or comments in response to my contributions. The “twitchiness” of checking email, Twitter & Facebook several times a day is back. One of my conclusions was that Facebook has a value and that I miss it when I’m not there, and I fear that now I’ve given myself “permission” to go on Facebook, I’ve let myself get sucked in. I realize now that Facebook is designed to be addictive. Seeing the “Likes” on your posts is like popping pills that give you an amphetamine rush. The stream of new “notifications” is an intravenous drip delivering compliments and ego strokes directly into your psyche.
Well, it’s December now, and that means it must be time for me to jump back onto Facebook and Twitter. But before I do, I wanted to gather my thoughts about the experience and share what I have learnt from it. I thought I’d do this in a form of a Q & A with myself.
What was it like?
Well for one thing, it was not as hard as I imagined it would be. I used a variety of techniques to physically block myself
from Twitter and Facebook – but it turned out these were not necessary, willpower was sufficient. The closest I got was when other websites or apps tried to embed Facebook boxes or twitter feeds and I almost got tricked into clicking through. I suppose one telling thing is that now it’s the 5th of December and I haven’t rushed back on Facebook and Twitter yet, even though I could have five days ago. My main reason was I wanted to get this blog post written first, before I am “polluted” by going back on – but even so, I haven’t been in a great hurry. Another thing I noticed was several times when out and about and I had the urge to tweet or post to Facebook, it felt a little odd not to share that moment – but it wasn’t a big deal and the feeling soon subsided. Overall, the experience wasn’t hard at all.
Was it more relaxing being away from social media?
Definitely. The most amazing thing is I actually feel like time slowed down. That’s a pretty profound thing to say, but when I think back to the beginning of November, it seems like months ago.
If you read my last post you’ll know I’m taking a break from social media for a month. That post explained the general reasons why.
In this post I’ll add a little more detail on what exactly I’m doing, and how.
Here’s the things I’m doing for November..
- Blocking my computers from accessing Facebook or Twitter.
- Turning off all Facebook and Twitter alerts on my email and on my phone.
- Deleting all Facebook or Twitter-related apps on my iPhone and iPad.
- Turning off and putting away my Chumby.
- Unlink Twitter from Flipboard, sobeeslite and other news apps.
- Turning off NutshellMail and Twilert, two services I use which send Twitter and Facebook updates to my inbox.
- Disabling Google Alerts, Slashdot newsletters, and any other regular emails that arrive in my inbox.
- Turning off Google Buzz within Gmail (I can’t disable it completely without deleting my Google Profile).
- Disable all notifications (including email and IM) on my iPhone and iPad.
- Disabling anything else that pops up early in November that I might have forgotten about that seems like a regular notification or distraction.
2-10 are all fairly straightforward.
1 is a little more interesting.
The solution I am going for is to edit the hosts file on my computer (/etc/hosts on the Mac), and add an entry which remaps twitter.com
to different addresses – probably google news and my blog respectively). As of yet I haven’t found a way to do this on the iPad or iPhone so I may just need to rely on willpower there… Unless anyone has any suggestions?
[To read the follow up to this post, reflecting on the experience, go here.]
[To read the follow up to this post, reflecting on the experience, go here
I’ve decided to do something unusual for November. For the whole month I’m going to give up Facebook, Twitter and a few associated “short update” type services. But I’ll be back on December 1st. Pointless? I don’t think so. Allow me to explain my thinking…
I’ve been on Facebook for five or six years now I guess. And that whole time I’ve hated Facebook – their lack of respect for personal privacy, their blatant commercialism, the way they abuse you and use your friends against you (I wrote a whole blog post about that
). But I’ve never left. Because, well, my friends are on there. And now I’m living across the pond from most of my friends, those relationships are more important than ever. So I can’t leave Facebook altogether, it would leave me too isolated – in fact that’s my only contact with many friends.
I realised that this is unhealthy. Facebook encourages a very shallow level of friendship – little ego strokes with Like buttons and comments on each others profiles, lazy status updates to everyone instead of picking up the phone. It’s damaging the quality of the relationships I do have, because it makes me feel connected even when I’m not at all really.