Why choose Google+ over Facebook?

This is one of those occasional posts that have little to do with matters of faith. However, as most of the people I know through church circles do use Facebook, this seems as good a place as any. (Also, Blogger, part of the Google emporium, is hardy about to ban me for suggesting people leave Facebook for Google).


I joined Google+ last week and have, since then, found it to be far superior to Facebook. Currently, I run both accounts but I only plan to continue doing so until a reasonable proportion of my regular contacts set up Google+ accounts, at which point, Facebook will be used only for the parish group, and perhaps not even that.

In the meanwhile, here are the reasons why I prefer Google+:

It is tidy and intuitive

Things are easy to find and they do what I expect them to do without my having to think too much about how they might work.

It is simple

On Facebook, if I want to post to somebody's wall, I first have to visit the person's profile; if I want to send the person a private message, I have to either do the same as above or go to the "messages" section of my account; if I want to chat, I have to open up a separate sidebar window. If I want to update my own status, I have to visit my wall. Different forms of correspondence are all over the place.

On Google+, this is all simplified. Chat is embedded in the same "stream" page where I see all of my other correspondence (and is the same chat facility that has long been available through Gmail anyway, so is not unfamiliar). Status updates, private messages, and updates on others' "walls" simply do not exist on Google+. Their functions have all been consolidated into one simple "share" function, which is accessible from anywhere in Google+, and I can choose to share with certain individuals or certain groups of people, as I wish.

It is more realistic

On Facebook, to establish long-term contact with somebody, I must become the person's "friend". So people with whom I have shared personal experiences and details for years, people from my parish, people I meet occasionally in other church circles, people I know from work, and so forth, are all placed into the same category. This causes some degree of awkwardness, particularly when I receive requests from strangers asking to be my friend and I do not quite know how to respond. As in real life, I may want occasional contact with some people but not to the degree that I would my real friends. Facebook doesn't really make it easy to manage that difference.

Google+ doesn't expect me to be everybody's friend. In fact, Google+ is not based on a system of mutual relationships at all. There is a group of people with whom I choose to share and there is a separate group of people who choose to share with me. While the two lists contain many of the same people, functionally, they are completely independent of each other. So I don't have to gain somebody's approval of friendship before being able to share something with him or somebody else doesn't have to gain my approval of friendship before she can share something with me. This allows much more readily for the sort of interaction that often happens in real life. It is more natural. The people with whom I share are put into circles of my devising and my choosing, and I can have the same people in multiple circles if I wish. It is so easy.

It respects my privacy

This is perhaps the current major selling point for me and one of Facebook's main failings. Facebook's privacy settings are far too complicated for me. Access to each element of my profile is controlled by a different setting. I neither need nor want that meticulous level of detail, and find it too much to handle. Then there are the exceptions to the rules, and the exceptions to the exceptions. It becomes impossible to keep track of it all and I become confused.

Google+ makes this much simpler. The fact that my contacts are already arranged into different social circles makes it much easier for me to control who sees what I share and who can respond without needing to navigate my way through a minefield of privacy settings. I can arrange my contacts into circles according to work, those to whom I am personally close, those I like but only met once or twice, those who are the partners of friends whom I have added to be polite, clergy in my church, and so forth, and each time I share something, I can decide which circles see it. If it is for the eyes of one person, I can share with just that one person. I can choose to share it with the circles of people in my circles if I wish, and can choose to enable or disable them from further sharing it themselves.

In addition, unlike Facebook, Google+ allows me to change my mind. If I update my status on Facebook and choose who can see it, I am committing myself to that choice. If I change my mind or later realise that I have made a mistake and have shared something potentially embarrassing with the wrong people, it's just too bad: Facebook will not allow me to alter the setting. My only option is to delete the update and re-post it, which I may not wish to do if it has already received 25 responses and led to an interesting discussion. Google+ allows me to change my settings after I have shared something but warns me to be careful and to consider who may see it.

It is part of the Google Emporium

I already use Gmail, Google Maps, Google Books, Google Search, Google Calendar, Chrome, Youtube, and Blogger. These things are integrated with each other and all operate under a single account, making life much easier for me, especially as somebody who blogs and runs websites and could do without juggling multiple service providers, keeping track of mutiple usernames, and remembering multiple passwords. It only makes sense that my social networking be part of the same account.

So why would anybody NOT want to transfer to Google+?

I'm used to Facebook. I know how to use it and can find my way around. Learning something new would be too much of a hassle.

Google+ is very simply laid out. Unlike with Facebook, there is actually very little learning to be done. Give it a try and you'll see.

All of my friends are on Facebook. I would lose them all if I were to transfer.

This is a genuine concern but one without a firm basis. Most people use Google for most other things and will gladly embrace the social networking site if they can be persuaded that it is worth the change. While Facebook's minor annoyances until now have been tolerable and have not outweighed its benefits, now that something with all of those benefits is available without the annoyances, and from a trusted name, you may be surprised at how willing people are to jump ship. With a bit of effort at spreading the word (remember that Google+ is less than a month old) and telling of the benefits, more people will at least be willing to try it out. I was surprised at the number of my friends who were already on Google+ when I joined, and the number has grown in the past week.

All of my photographs are on Facebook. I don't want to have to start again from scratch.

You don't have to. You can import your photographs from Facebook to Google+. It took me no more than five minutes, and most of that was the computer getting on with it while I did other things.

I can access Facebook on my phone using an app.

You can do the same with Google+, both for Android and iPhone.

That seems to be it. I asked some of the people whom I have invited to Google+ why they have not joined and nobody had any reasons not covered above. Given, the benefits, and the fact that the drawbacks are easily overcome, why not stop labouring under the darkness of Facebook and embrace Google+?


4 responses:

Jon Marc said...

And your reply to a plea of busyness and inertia? ;-)

Michael said...

A dispassionate lack of sympathy. Unless, of course, the cause of this busyness is the preparations for moving to the UK.

Gregory said...

So just because something has innovations you suddenly are ready to jump ship? How unorthodox of you, an anathema to you and all your kind. Facebook forever. Have a nice day. :)Gregory

Michael said...

They aren't innovations: they are restorations of what we know to be right and decent and true to real life. Facebook can be thought of as a sort of schism from which we must recover. :-)

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