February 15, 2019

Saying Goodbye to Google+

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I jumped on Google+ back in July of 2011. I wasn't initially sure what to make of it. It was still invite-only, and nobody I knew was using it. I thought that it had potential, but it took me some time to figure out what that might be. Once it was opened up to everyone, I quickly discovered that I liked it far more than Facebook. It was so much easier to sort people into groups (i.e., circles) and distribute relevant content to them based on how they had been sorted. It seemed more flexible, faster, less cumbersome, and just all-around better. The only downside was that nobody I knew in real life was using it.

In November of 2011, I created an Atheist Revolution page on Google+. I have used it consistently since then, sharing every post and providing readers with another place to interact. While it never generated the same level of traffic as the Atheist Revolution page on Facebook, it has provided more than some other social media platforms. In addition, I have continued to find it far more enjoyable to use than Facebook.

Unfortunately, Google has announced that they are shutting down Google+. The original announcement said that it would close in August of 2019, but that has been moved up to the beginning of April. The initial announcement made it sound like the decision was based on a couple of security breaches. Rather than try to fix the problems, Google decided to abandon the platform. More recent announcements have made it sound like the fact that Google+ never caught on and became popular enough to rival Facebook may have been at least as much of a factor in the decision.

I will miss Google+. I have found it very helpful for promoting Atheist Revolution. It has generated consistent traffic, and it has provided me with an enjoyable way to interact with readers around the content. I will miss it even more for reasons that have nothing to do with this blog. I have another Google+ account I have been using to organize content for various parts of my job and interacting with people working in similar areas. That is where I will miss it the most.

It is hard to blame Google for closing it or to be surprised that they decided to do so. It never came close to catching on as a Facebook alternative. From what I have seen from Google over the years, they are not particularly inclined to stand behind their services. It often seems like just around the time I fully learn how to use one of their services, it is abruptly discontinued and I am left scrambling for a replacement. I suppose the lesson is not to become overly dependent on any one service or platform, especially if Google is behind it.

The silver lining when it comes to Atheist Revolution is that I won't be rushing out to find a replacement. I am not enjoying the social media thing nearly as much as I used to, and I think I'd rather reallocate the saved time to other things. If Google+ had to go, I suppose it is nice that it is going at a time when I am feeling less likely to miss it.