July 22, 2012

Google+ is a Great Tool for Atheists

Google+As a blogger, it is sometimes difficult to know what to do when you discover that you have changed your mind about something you wrote in an old post. Deleting the old post with which you now disagree is certainly an option, but I'm not sure it is the best one. Writing a new post explaining your change of mind since you wrote the previous post is the option I'm going with here. It turns out that I was wrong about Google+ and its utility for the atheist community.

Roughly a year ago, I wrote an unenthusiastic post about Google+ in which I said I probably would not stick with it much longer. I'm still using it a year later, I was very wrong. I am not going to go through everything a Google+ novice should know to have a positive experience there - many others have done that far better than I could. What I am going to do is focus on why Google+ is such an ideal tool for atheists.

Google+ vs. Facebook

Social media users prefer Google+ to Facebook, so what do they know that you might not?

Google circles are similar to Facebook lists, except they are far easier to use. You decide who can access various types of your content based on what circle(s) you add them to. This makes it much easier to deliver targeted content with Google+ (i.e., making atheist-oriented material available to a select group of your contacts who are likely to be interested in it). You could easily set things up so that the people in your photography circle would see your photos while nobody else would even know you had any.

With Google+, you can add whoever you want to your circles to see their public content. There is none of that ridiculous friending, so Google+ works more like Twitter in that regard. You add whoever you find interesting to your circles, and there is no expectation of mutual adds. I've met a ton of people through Google+ that I never would have encountered on Facebook.

One of the biggest surprises for me with Google+ has been the rapid growth of international users. I'm connecting with people from all over the world on Google+. I have experienced nothing even remotely like this on Facebook, and it is a cool reminder that the U.S. lags far behind most of the rest of the world when it comes to atheism.

There is also the issue of trust. Most of us using Facebook do not particular trust their privacy policies. Trust in Google, while far from absolute, tends to run higher.

What Makes Google+ So Great for Atheists?

Not every atheist wants every Facebook friend to see his/her atheist-related content. And yet, setting up lists to control who sees what content can be a bit of a pain and requires more trust in Facebook's privacy settings than most users have.

Google+ accomplishes this so much better through what they call circles. I create an atheist circle and put associates I know are atheists in it. It is then extremely easy to share atheist content with only that circle. It is also easy to peruse incoming content from members of that circle when I want to read atheist-related material.

I have built circles on a variety of topics, some of which are fairly large (e.g., atheists, science), and some of which are much smaller and more tightly controlled (e.g., atheist bloggers I read). It works extremely well.

While it is true that your real-life friends and family members may not be on Google+ yet, you'll be delighted to find who is using it. Science, tech, and atheism are flourishing on Google+. It seems like the service is attracting a different caliber of user, one who will probably be a pleasant surprise to many.

If you haven't tried Google+ yet, check it out. You can find Atheist Revolution's page here.

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