Years ago, I heard some rumblings that Google had created a social network and it was invite only. Fancy beta. It didn’t mean anything to me, Gmail was weird like that for years, and I never saw the allure of it. Some people swore by it. But I had looked at it once and went, “Merp.” Merp , a word I had learned from a skater girl in high school, it was her version of meh . She usually accompanied it with an exaggerated shrugging of the shoulders.
A news story hit the tech sites that a Google employee had accidentally shared an internal post publicly. It was a long post about how Google had to take Google+ seriously and how they weren’t. It wasn’t a complaining post, more of an impassioned post. I clicked on a link that took me out to the full post. I didn’t realize I was reading a Google+ post at the time. But I scrolled that post, it was super long, and in-depth. And there was a lot of passion in that post. When I got to the bottom of it, there were comments. And I read through a lot of the comments too. At some point I scrolled back up to the top and saw the header.
This was Google+. I had accidentally fallen into it. And what I had found was an insanely tl;dr post with a lot of tl;dr comments. So much discussion. So much passion. So much information. So much. And I was blown away at how the design had really facilitated it. This was Google+.
I had no idea. I had no idea that this was what Google+ was all about. That this was what it looked like. How it worked. How much more engaging and civilized it was compared to Facebook. Or any social network at the time.
I needed it.
I went to a coworker who had a Google+ account, but wasn’t using it. I asked for an invite, he sent it.
Before I created my profile, I made myself commit to a purpose. A purpose for this account. Why was I creating an account for this network? I thought about it. And I realized that with a platform so well-suited for long posts, so well-suited for discussion, it was the perfect place for a writer like me. I told myself that Google+ was going to be my Author Platform. Google+ would be where I went first, and foremost, and sometimes only when I was doing authorly things. This was my home on the internet, as an author. I wouldn’t circle real life friends or family members, in less they were interested in my writing. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t do it. This was not about them. This was about me, as an author, having a space.
I found and met so many amazing people here. I read so many amazing posts, and discussions. So many amazing things have happened on Google+. My home. My author platform.
It has changed a lot since then, but it has always remained my home. No other place on the internet has ever felt like a place for my writing like Google+.
No other place.
As the news came, rather suddenly, that Google+ was going to be departing in August 2019, I was met with a lot of feelings. It’s been emotional, I’m not gonna lie. There has been no other place that I really felt like fit exactly that purpose I decided on so long ago. Not for lack of trying. I’ve tried it on Twitter, I’ve tried it on Ello, I’ve tried it on so many other networks. More than I care to admit.
Google+ has always fit that purpose beautifully. And so, as I start to pack my boxes. As I start to look for a new home in another neighborhood, I’m met with so much disheartening feelings. Will I ever find that space again? Will there ever be another place that fills it? I don’t know. But I’ll keep looking. I’ll keep trying. I’ll keep keeping on.
Years ago, I was voted in as a vice chair and chair of the staff council at Missouri University of Science and Technology. I took my work as a chair very seriously, despite being a very humorous person most the time. There were times I’d show up to campus early and walk around, with my earbuds in, listening to a song on repeat. It was the song Better Together by Jack Johnson. That was my theme song during my stay as chair of the staff council. It helped put my mind in the proper place for the work that needed to be done, and before difficult discussions needed to happen. We were a team, and that was important. And we did our best work together. There was no point in competition or petty arguments. And meeting in the middle was super important.
Never underestimate meeting in the middle.
As I sat here, trying to conjure up the inspiration I needed to start writing this post. A post I’d been putting off for so long. Thoughts I’d been needing to say since the announcement. A song came over the radio in the Panera Bread I’m sitting in, it was my old theme as chair. Better Together . And that was it. I knew it. I put my headphones on and put that song on repeat again.
Google+ was better as a social network, because we are better together. And it felt like we were together. Like there was a team of us, a town, that really cared about what happened here. And we worked hard to make it the best place it could be. So much energy and effort has been poured into Google+ not just by the people of Google, but also by us–the users.
Ever since the announcement I’ve been watching as people from all corners, and communities of Google+ have really come together. Everyone is trying to find a place that we can all migrate to–together. So we can keep on talking together, sharing together, and creating together. Because we all know it, deep down, we’re all better together.
The emotions have been high since the announcement. I think a lot of us are grieving in our own way. A lot of us were passionate, like that Googler so many years ago who had the oopsie. I can sense that in a lot of folks.
So much passion.
But I’m not here to judge, or get mad, I’m not a very reactionary person. Haven’t been that way since I was a kid. I’ve had some insightful accusations/insights from people through the years. I’ve been told I’m overprotective of people, like a parent. I’ve also been told I’m too logical. So, I’m like if Spock had a kid and was like super worried about them all the time. I guess.
No, I’m here to say… it’s rough. It’s been daunting to think about.
But I’m also here to say thank you. I especially wanted to say thank you to the community managers and all the Googlers of Google+ who have made this possible. THANK YOU SO DAMN MUCH.
And that being said, let’s all let out a “merp” and shrug in unison.