If you’ve been drawn into Google Plus, Google’s latest way to disperse your life, by now you may be wondering what all the excitement is about. I think I’m missing the point of Google Plus or it may mean that I need find a more constructive addiction that dragging and dropping people’s icons into circles.
Clearly I have no issue with circles. Vis les enso. But it would seem I have issues with what it means to be in a circle. For those not trapped in G+, circles are Google Plus’ way of “helping” us organize the people with whom we associate. You drag and drop your companions, friends and family into circles labelled “Companions,” “Friends, “and “Family… or whatever you wish to label them because no one sees the labels. The advantage is in targeting your messages to specific audiences. So, your Great-Aunt Mathilda who may be in your G+ circle of octogenarians doesn’t have to read about your latest YouTube find of dancing naked penguins.
It has promise. It also has a way of uncovering how wide-ranging your interests and fellowships are. Mine, for example, seem to be myopically focused on Buddhists, Buddhist Bloggers, Bloggers, and People Who Bug Me But Might Occasionally Have Something Useful To Say. Yes, that latter group was an interesting test of equanimity. It comprises of folks who add me to their circles but with whom I share little more than an account on G+ and a surface commonality in Buddhism and/or Psychology. Adding them mindlessly to my circles only exposed me to wild ranting about US politics, techie stuff that verged on techeroticism (that’s an unhealthy attachment to all things new that the Internet puts out), and other “stuff.” I think some people simply added me to increase their body count: Igor has 371 people in his circle – you have 45!
So, being a great fan of the Abdhidhamma, I created another category, a non-circle: “You are not in any of my circles.”
That concept is also the gross pain in the behind that is G+. Once someone adds you to their circle, you can’t get rid of them short of blocking them. Even if you don’t add them to your circles, they continue to appear in your proximal view called “Incoming.” How apt a name that conjures up visions of being tracked and struck by drones! But at least, by holding them in the tank, I can observe their posts (and frequency!) before deciding on whether to include them in a circle.
I’m not sure about all this. The shrink in me says this style of adding people without their permission for admission is a safe way of not risking rejection. And personally, there’s a discomfort in making judgments about people and consigning them to waste bins or in-groups. Or maybe I’m just making too much of this. G+ has some great features in terms of having more relevant conversations with like-minded people and private exchanges with individuals. Time will tell. The proof of this pudding will be in the eating. And all those clichés that go around and come around.
In the meantime, it’s a good practice of discernment.