Internet giant Google has set the world of cyberspace abuzz with its introduction of Google Plus, the social networking tool that is going head to head with Facebook. In so doing, the company has generously provided yet another web-based delivery system for the duplication of the unhealthy, clique-centered dynamic of a junior high school popularity contest.
"It's cool," said Mark S., a user new to the Google Plus program and a 47-year old thoracic surgeon, "Because you can organize all your different groups of contacts into 'circles' now, which means all the losers who are into lame stuff that you hate and who you would never even think of inviting to a party can be handily removed from one circle and placed on a list in another one. Maybe you could even call one of the circles 'suck ass losers.' I'm not sure if you can, though, I have to look into that."
Users are also expressing enthusiasm for "Hangout," the Google Plus video conferencing function. Christine M., 39, a successful, high-powered consultant to overseas alternative energy firms, elaborates, "I only want to talk to people I can stand to look at, and everybody in my circles will know this. So if even one stupid dumb dorky girl who probably hasn't even kissed a boy yet accidentally gets added to my Hangout queue, they will so totally get frozen out, like, big time."
The organization of groups of associates into these circles will certainly provide an outlet for certain larger subsets of dipwad losers who want to form their own tragic little enclaves, such as those who are into anime, Star Wars, indie rock or even Blacksploitation Cinema of the 1970s. But, as with the petty, uncaring and even vicious world of the middle school which the Internet is so good at duplicating, many, many others will be left as outcasts, pitifully posting links to their favorite YouTube clips from that super-dork PBS special about Joseph Campbell, recommending blogs that feature sad literary criticism about people who have been dead for, like, a million years or, perhaps worst of all, just always putting out status updates about the agonizingly dull, boring little events in their forgettable, hateful little lives.
If there is any justice for those putrid few who are left with no more than a moribund double-digit list of virtual companions on this new social network, it's that Google Plus will itself most certainly plunge all of its users into the same miasma of fear and insecurity that Facebook, Twitter, and any number of other social sites already do: creating the feeling that however many followers you have is never enough, that people with significantly more friends than you must surely have a better life than you, and that if your status update or tweet is not acknowledged in some way by those in your circle, you have irrevocably failed as a social networker and as a human being.
Sometimes, all we can do is just suffer through it and wait for graduation.
James Napoli is an author and humorist. More of his comedy content for the web can be found here.