I'm tired, and my eyes hurt. I miss the old days, and by "old" I mean the '90s. I remember going to a talk at the University of Washington about how to use the Internet, except this was before the World Wide Web as we know it, so the talk was about Gopher. (You just passed the nerd test if you remember -- or are still using -- Gopher.) I was sitting there in that crowded room of pleated-pants-wearing, middle-aged nerds and listening to this guy poorly explaining a now-completely-outdated and complicated process for Internetting while thinking to myself, "This is a mess. I'm going to check back into this scene when it's closer to primetime."
Afterwards, I most likely hopped on my bike to go for a swim or went to the library to read some books. Maybe I found a pay phone to try to see if I could catch some friends before going over to my P.O. box to check the mail. I might even have gone over to Tower Records and bought the newly released Dr. Octagon vinyl -- I just don't remember. I think back to those times a lot, wondering what we did with all this time we now spend on the Internet. And before you say, "Speak for yourself, buddy," let me suggest that you be honest with yourself here, as we're all doing it. Even you, Mr. iPad-on-the-toilet.
Looking at where we are today, that simple reality feels like a really, really long time ago. In 15 years almost everything has changed. The way we shop, talk, meet, comment, date, share, commune, communicate -- everything. It's all filtered through our desk or lap portals as if we were all coders working on some giant collective software project. It's pretty weird when you think about it -- and no, I'm not stoned right now.
Something about the Google+ frenzy has really solidified a few suspicions I've had about where we are as a society right now. For me, personally, I'm just not interested in moving on to yet another social interaction tool. I don't care if it's awesome, epic or whatever. It feels a bit like what meeting the rad, hot girl after you're married would be like. Maybe if you'd met at another time in your life, it'd be on, but you're smart enough to know that jumping over to different-but-ultimately-the-same isn't worth it.
I personally use Facebook mostly as a replacement for email, as I'm an address book slob. But if only half my friends are on it in the future? My new social networking site will be email. Your social networking trajectory might be on the ups, but mine is a bell curve whose ridge I feel I've just crested, and I'm ready to slide -- with a firm push from Google+.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't chase the carrot down the road; for some people it's the thing to do. I'm just saying that this old dude is bowing out of progress. I'm sticking with where I am, like a San Francisco hipster dinner waitress has stuck with grundge. I have this personal life rule that I feel would work well for anyone: no new drugs after 25. I know that sounds a bit experience-limiting, but statistically speaking, I believe it's the best way. We all know that straight-edge guy who starts smoking weed at 27 and loses his mind. Drug experimentation is for the young. If you must dabble in your later years, only revisit the places you've already been, because trying LSD for the first time at 45 is a bad idea.
I'm thinking I should have applied that advice to computer usage long before the current tipping point was achieved, a message missed even through Stumbles, Tumblrs, Tweets, Diggs, Buzzfeeds, Facebooks and -- now -- Pluses. It's all going on like Robotron battling Donkey Kong if you're into it, so get into it. Me? I'm looking for my invite to reality. I'm ready to trade social networks for social graces.
In Google's own words, Google+ "makes sharing online more like sharing in real life." I'm ready to cut out the middle man. Who's with me?