Anyone who follows anything to do with the news has heard about Google+. You might even be -- like me -- someone who has friends jumping ship and trying to get you to come along. Like me, you might be balking. Not because there is anything wrong with Google+ necessarily, but just because there isn't really that much wrong with Facebook either, and the idea of setting up a whole new social network sounds about as much fun as working in a shoe factory.
But that's not the part that's getting weird. The weird part is that somehow in the scuffle and shuffle that will someday be referred to as The Great Social Media Wars of the '10s, Google has come out of the pack -- in the perception of many users that is -- as the indie-alternative. The antidote for "The Man," otherwise known as Facebook. Honestly, I could care less where people lay their circles, but to listen to the condescending cries of early adapters and their judgement on my data-feeding ways back on the old farm is enough to make me pull my hair out.
So let's just get a few things straight: Google isn't your friend just like Facebook isn't your friend. They haven't made four stabs at the social media market because they want to "hangout" with you. They want the same thing Facebook wants, your information. The +1 on everything, even porn (watch those clicks!) should tip you off to that fact. Honestly, I have no problem with this "lack of privacy" like everyone else seems to be up in arms about. This is America, land of nothing-is-free. We use these services daily, do you really expect not to give something in return? I personally think it's a fair trade, you get to flirt with half the country, and they get to recognize that at least one 28-year-old in Southern California like bikes, bars, babes and Angry Birds.
Secondly, If you are so protective of your personal stats and connections, get off the Internet. "The Man" doesn't need Facebook to see who you are, what you're doing or how you're doing it. You never hear people in an uproar when a criminal is placed at a crime scene because of their cell phone. Then there is your IP address, which is also giving you up, as we saw in the Mp3 file sharing lawsuits. I'm not saying the information will always be -- or even allowed to be -- used, but in a country that seems to be giving corporations carte blanche on their behavior, who knows how it'll be used tomorrow.
And before you say, "Maybe you should be more paranoid" let me tell you that I am pretty paranoid. I don't understand people who buy weed at dispensaries. Sure, it's safe now, but if a rights-abusing right wing government ever took hold in this country -- much like it seems people are hoping for -- the weed-smoking list of a California dispensaries seems as good a place as any to squash dissension. But I also know that to live in this digital world means we give up a piece of our privacy, a regrettable fact of modern living.
If you don't want to be catalogued, don't catalog yourself. When your phone wants to sync with Facebook -- or Google -- assume they are getting something out of it, because they are. Just like when you like, +1, share, say, Tweet. In every instance you are giving up your location, so to speak. We all complain about having our data farmed while simultaneously giving them all the data. If you still want your circles and likes, you can be comforted to know that at least with social media, it appears they really don't care who you are. They just want your stats. But it's your choice to give them or not. Nothing is free and your information is the currency.
So if you really want to get paranoid, switching to Google+ isn't your answer. That's like quitting Camels for Marlboros. Get off social media altogether and buy yourself stamps, paper and envelopes. Anything less and there are possible eyes that are curious what you're up to for one reason or another.
Or just be realistic about what you are trading. I know I'll catch hell for this, but in my opinion, sometimes it's worth it. If 'the man" wants you, your social media practices are not going to be the difference maker.
Erasing David is an interesting English movie on the subject. The amount of files he recovers on himself by applying through public information is staggering.
Follow Steven Nereo on Twitter: www.twitter.com/single_ape