Goodbye Google Plus -The Final Death of G+ Eulogy
Well here it is. The end of Google Plus is finally upon us. The sadness is setting in, but I feel the need to say Goodbye. You see folks, I joined Google Plus that very first day, June 28, 2011. I never ever experienced the Google Plus ghost town. I ended up with 5 million followers on G+. Quite possibly the most followed person in the world who “actually used” Google Plus. The Queen of Google Plus, the poster child, or my personal favorite – The most followed person in the world on the social network absolutely nobody cared about.
This website changed so many peoples lives. I wanted to take this time when Google Plus is shutting down, to share with all of you why so many of us loved Google Plus. Why this closing hit us so hard. Google Plus was a whirlwind experience and there are so many things to say. Saying goodbye is never easy but I hope those who relate to what I’ve said here, can get some closure from this eulogy of mine, for something we cared about so much.
Who Used Google Plus?
There are roughly 3 groups of people when it comes to G+. Please pick your closest available group 😉
Group 1 – You don’t even know what Google+ is. You never used it as far as you know. Hey thanks for being here and learning about it.
Group 2 – You think you had a G+ account. Likely because “Google forced you to use it” or “heard it was good for business”. You posted something once you think, you don’t know. You playfully mock your friends or anyone who ever mentioned they used the platform with – “Isn’t it a ghost town?”.
Group 3 – The Google Plus Fans and Core Users. Your life was forever changed because of the people and experiences you had on G+. Maybe you met your husband, got a job or created thousands of connections with people all around the globe that you consider friends. Although you’ve lived the entire G+ experience with constantly being told the network is a ghost town, the actual death of Google Plus pains you. You feel like you’ve lost something that you know will never quite be replaced. It was just a website – a tool – but none the less an important part of your life for many years.
It was Never a Ghost Town
For me and so may other loyal Google Plus fans it was mind boggling that the media kept painting Google Plus as a ghost town. My stream was rich and active and full of things I loved to talk about. Countless users, myself included, got WAY more interaction on G+ than any other social network. I posted about this many times and offered to talk to any reporter about it. Yet the media never acknowledged this. No one was interested in that story.
Google painted G+ as the Facebook replacement in their marketing, but that was just wrong. I told them this in marketing meetings I attended at Google head office. It was never a Facebook replacement. G+ was always much more like Reddit or an interest based platform. G+ circles allowed you to compartmentalize your social streams. Don’t want your boss and co-workers to see you out partying last night? No worries. Share those bar photos to your friends only circle. ONLY friends would see it. Your boss and co-workers never would. Want to post pictures of your cats?” Cool people who like cats” circle would interact with genuine targeted interest to your cat posts. Those who love dogs and loath cats would never see your cat posts ever again.
We all know Facebook is for friends and family. After years of interacting daily with your friends and family there though, the sad truth has come to light. You actually don’t really LIKE or share similar interests to many of your friends and family. At least not on a constant play-by-play, public, on-going update that Facebook has provided for many years now. Google plus was for strangers who just happened to like the same things you do. I had countless circles and streams of content showing only stuff I was interested in. Isn’t that the way social media is supposed to be?
In this current time of Facebook political post divide, (that mixed together with the constant Facebook security flaws has all but destroyed the current version of Faceybook) not a day goes by where I don’t see countless people talking about how they HATE the politics in their Facebook feed and “unfriend them” if you want to post X side of whatever today’s debate is. The Google Plus unique way of sharing topic specific content to only the people who were actually interested in those topics is needed now more than ever. Yet alas, G+ has decided that today it will close it’s doors forever. What was it like for those of us who used the product? The G+ faithful? Amazing. Life changing. Here are some of my memories.
The Core of the Experience – Google Plus Public Hangouts
Hangouts was something that always made Google Plus special for me. I opened up hangouts on that very first day and video chatted with other random people around the world. This was a time long ago, when video was not used for nearly half the things we take for granted and use it for today. This was the wild west of social media my friends. It was truly amazing to be sitting in my living room and Boom – The Black Eyed Peas are hanging out in their living room and we were discussing life in a casual video hangout. I chatted with countless famous people from rock stars to famous monks to movie stars and sports celebrities. Those early days were something else.
It wasn’t just the famous though. Some of these early day hangouts were just visually, chatting and getting to know people from all around the world. Simple conversations that were well… fascinating. What do Polish people eat for breakfast? How much is a cheeseburger in Japan at Mcdonalds? What is the hit music in Australia right now? What are your thoughts on this tech news article people from all over the place? It was the same eye opening experience you get from backpacking around the world, all done from the comfort of your living room. I saw amazing places around the world with people who lived near those locations. Trips to the Pyramids, the Eiffel tower, Niagara Falls, and Shopping Malls in Duabi to name a few. I hung out with thousands and thousands of different people from all around the world. I asked where they were from, what they do and how they are. I likely asked you if you hungout. Tattoo artists to lawyers to geeks to moms to students to technology fans to rocket scientists. I’ve met them all and countless more in a Google+ Hangout. It was a networking paradise. Many of these people I still consider friends to this day. Many are good friends, who I’ve flown to meet and hang out with many times in “real life”. I’ve been a part of some of these people weddings, and some of their funerals. I played Dungeons and Dragons in a hangout with people from all over the place, for over a year, every Sunday. Long before this was a regular YouTube streaming experience for countless Role playing brands today. The people I met in these Hangouts became core parts of my life.
I loved hangouts… I did them daily, usually public, with countless people, 10 at a time for many many years. I wouldn’t change these experiences for anything in the world. If you were part of those hangout days, you know. You remember.
Circles Made G+ go Round
It wasn’t just hangouts though. I made curated circles on a wide variety of topics I was personally and professionally interested in. From Zombies to Xbox. From Cats to Canada, I created countless circles of users around the world who liked these topics. When I had a questions about gaming – Which new headset should I get? I posted it to my “gaming circle”. Immediately thousands of people who were knowledgeable about gaming and whose opinions I trusted on gaming would give me advice. My social time on Google plus was filled with content I actually wanted to see. What a novel concept for “Social Media”. Shares existed on Google Plus first. Facebook copied this concept years later. Mobile video conferencing from your cell phone? G+ had that first too. Google Plus did countless firsts.
Being Famous On the Internet
Being famous on the Internet was hard. I see countless Youtube, Instagram and other social media Influencers expressing this concept daily. When you finally “make it” as an online celebrity there is no user manual or guide on what to do or how to act. Although I made a lot of friends, I also made a lot of enemies having 5 million people follow me. A lot of hate. My life was threatened. I was stalked. People tried to blackmail me even. It is quite something to have 5000 people correct a typo you make. Every typo, every day.
I had countless jealous wives contact me about their husbands. They wanted to know who I was, and why was I talking to their husband. I never knew who their husbands were, never even talked to them, they just followed me on G+. I feel bad for those husbands. People love to follow and criticize you on everything you say and do. They also idolize you too. People wanted to take their picture with me if they saw me in real life. I had several people tell me a post I made changed their life. You know, that cat one from 4 years ago? I never knew. I likely had no idea who they even were. It was impossible to keep track of everyone, although I tried to always be approachable and friendly on G+. It was hard.
I learned a lot about human nature from these things. I learned a lot about human nature around the world too. I once posted a joke about a cow and had countless people from around the world inform me that my cow joke insulted their sacred animal. It’s something in North America I would never think of. It became very hard to find content that did not offend people as my audience grew. The world is a very big place. Being a celebrity is hard work and I empathize so much more with the famous ‘movie stars” of the world after this” D Level” fame experience. Many people ask me why I haven’t moved to Youtube or Twitch or some other streaming platform to “do it all again”. I learned the lesson of not investing everything into a network you don’t control. I also don’t really wish Internet fame on my worst enemy. Many of you on Google Plus had a larger audience than you have had anywhere else in the world on social media. You perhaps can relate to some of what I’ve expressed here too. Fame is a funny thing and we all deal with it differently. I had some really amazing experiences because of G+ fame too. Perhaps that is an article for another day though.
It’s Time to Say Goodbye….
These life changing experiences were not unique to me. Countless individuals are expressing their sadness on Google Plus shutting down. My experiences were shared by many, maybe by you too. If so i’d love to hear about your experience below in the comments. Funerals and eulogy’s aren’t for the dead, they’re for the people left behind – the Google Plus Fans. Regardless of which Google Plus user group you fell into, many people around the world are mourning the loss of this platform. We feel immense sadness that a platform that was so different, so special, was never really given the chance by so many. Google Plus was something we put so much effort and love into and it was taken from us today. Thanks for all the laughs, the friendships, the experiences. Thanks for everything. Goodbye Google Plus. We will miss you.