So 2014 was a really interesting year when it came to social networking, at least for me. It began with a switch from Facebook to Google+, then back to Facebook because I missed seeing what my friends were up to, and missed showing them what I was up to (which I came to realize was a need for validation – more about that later). I sort of swapped between the two of them for the first half of the year, and then once summer came I felt the need to drop both of those and focus strictly on Twitter.
I posted a ton on Twitter this summer, gained a bunch of followers, and had an overall okay time. Not completely fulfilling, but whatever. It wasn’t Facebook, and that was important.
Let’s not forget about Instagram, which I felt was the cool thing to be on, but really is just another thing that everyone else is on, posting pics of food and cats.
Oh, and did I mention Tumblr? Yeah, we were friends for a few weeks, too, mainly because I enjoyed watching funny GIFs of One Direction. But that was merely a distraction.
Then suddenly once fall came around and school for my daughter started up again, I was like, “Why do I need to be on Twitter with all these people I don’t know? It’s time to get real and focus on the real people in my life, like the ones on Facebook!”
So back to Facebook I went.
But I still wasn’t happy.
Did I miss the fun of looking at Harry Styles on Tumblr? Did I miss the occasional interaction with someone “famous” (AKA an author of a YA book, most likely) on Twitter? Did I really need to use Instagram when all I was using it for was to take pictures of whatever book I was reading at the moment?
Well, no. I thought I did miss those things, but after a few days I realized that I didn’t miss them. What all this was causing was simply SOCIAL OVERLOAD. I wasn’t happy on Facebook, but having too many outlets wasn’t making me happy, either.
I even tried to go at it one at a time. I started with Twitter. “I’m ONLY going to use Twitter from now on,” I said. But not only is Twitter a lonely place if you’re not famous, it can be a very negative place. In between rants about GamerGate and Ebola and feminism and anti-feminism, I found no fun left in Twitterland.
So then I said, “I’m only going to use Tumblr from now on!” And you know what? It was pretty fun for a couple days. Not only did I get my One Direction fix, but most of the artists I followed on Instagram were on Tumblr as well, so I could still see what they were all up to. But you know what? Tumblr is even a more lonelier place than Twitter. You want quality interaction? Good luck trying to find it amongst all those GIFs and reblogs.
During this time, I was always sort of using Google+ in the background. I use G+ as my photo backup, so it was never really not being used. But again, no one else was using it, even if they had accounts. So, again, LONELY.
At this point I decided to give Facebook another try. These people were real people in my life – friends, family, people who I actually cared about! And yes, so I sort of hated Facebook as a social network, but I figured I could just deal with it and stick it out.
Well, I did. For a while. But I just didn’t feel good about it.
What Facebook has so expertly done these past ten years is give people a “If it’s not on Facebook, it didn’t happen” kind of attitude, which ultimately led people to develop “FOMO” – Fear of Missing Out. We share SO MUCH these days, whether it’s what we made for breakfast or how much our kid has thrown up that day or how much we hate bad drivers and politics. And studies have shown that Facebook actually makes people feel depressed and convinced that other people are living better lives and are happier.
It’s amazing, actually, how easily Facebook can control your mood. I get angry and annoyed when I read posts from people who are angry and annoyed. And you would think that I should feel happy when other people are, right? Well, sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t. Most of the time I just think, “Wow, my life is kind of boring!”
And no matter how hard I try, I can’t get past how much I hate the Facebook news feed. I need my things in chronological order. I don’t want to see the same stuff people have liked appearing at the top of my news feed every hour. Stop telling me to friend complete strangers. Stop inviting me to play games. And their whole thing about only posting things that are popular? If no one will see my post, how will it get popular so people can start seeing it?
To sum it up: I don’t like who I am when I’m on Facebook.
So this is when the transition to Google+ began. I knew that I loved both their desktop and mobile app. It’s clean and not cluttered with ads (no ads, actually), and it’s laid out well in chronological order, and it was easy to use. But could I stick with it even if I was all alone on it?
But then I discovered one of its best features, Google+ Communities, which are like chatrooms based on people’s interests. You like to bake? There are a bunch of baking communities to share your thoughts and ideas. You like Doctor Who? Why not talk to other people who love it as well (as opposed to the two friends I have on FB who watch it while no one else would understand). I currently belong to four communities: Soundtracks, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, and Lord of the Rings. And I’ve had great interactions within all those communities, much more than I could have gathered from Facebook.
And while people still sit and complain about Facebook’s weird privacy policies that keep changing, I love the fact that Google’s is easy to understand and much more straight-forward and just plain BETTER than anyone else’s. By using the “Circles” you’ve created, you control who sees what. For instance, I currently have four circles: Family, Friends, Acquaintances, and Following. I can either share my things publicly (where anyone who has me in their circle can see it), or I can share it to just my family circle, my friend circle…you get the picture. And sometimes I don’t share it with anyone – only I can see it, which sort of makes G+ like a personal journal. Which I LOVE. I don’t ever have to worry about who saw something or who didn’t – something I always seem to think about when I was on FB.
There are so many awesome features of G+ that I would get into now, but this would turn into a much longer post and, well, maybe I’ll let you discover those features yourself!
But don’t worry, I’m not here to try to convince everyone to make the switch to Google+, because I know that will never happen. People expect Google+ to be like Facebook or Twitter, and when they realize that it’s not, they give up. I don’t expect anyone to switch over, and that’s fine. I’m completely satisfied with what I’m getting out of Google+ just how it is. Even if they’re not on G+, I know who my friends are and I can email them to stay in contact. I’m going on three weeks now and I don’t feel the need to check Facebook at all. And now that I know I can be happy with just one social media platform, it’s such a great feeling. Less noise, less stress, more living. I can do that all with Google+.