To Google + Or Not To Google +?

Okay – bear with me with this one, as it’s certainly dismissible as ‘Well, nice to have problems of only this magnitude, sheesh…’.

But do you feel the same? Is it possibly just ‘a female thing’, as posed by Phil Plait in a quote that follows this?

Social networking is useful for getting in touch with other secular and skeptic people. I can’t tell on G+ whether all the people adding me are those kinds of people. Some people I know are definitely secular/skeptical, but I don’t know them well enough to just post any old thing that they can read. For some people, I have NO idea who they are and I’m always getting that irritating red +1! in the corner of my email. Which I can’t turn off. I’ve tried.

I know there’s such things as Circles on Google +, where you can sort people into how much they see of what you post – but I’ve already spent years messing with Facebook, separating into categories the ‘real friends’ and the ‘people I know pretty well and don’t mind them seeing silly pictures‘ and the ‘family‘ and the ‘folks I will see at events but don’t really hang out with‘ and I (possibly) even have a page for my ‘business‘ where I’d rather have the general public only see the more  formal side of me… rather than my occasional angst-ridden ranting or a photo where I’m hugging an Alien dressed like Alice from Resident Evil.

I now have over 250 people who have added me and I can’t be bothered going through them all. For some, it’s in the thousands and I’m fairly certain they feel likewise.

Yes, there’s Google Hangouts, but I don’t think people are THAT interested in what I have to say that they’ll give up some time to do that – and I already have no time to schedule in Virtually Drinking Skeptically events, let alone a Skype chat with my best friend who lives in another timezone. Oh look, Felicia Day appeared in a Hangout! For all of a second, bah.

Speaking of which, my best friend not only doesn’t WANT to join G+ but has ensured that their Google keeps their paws off their private information (including their identity) and yet they still get their email address flagged on my side bar with ‘Ask Them To Join!’ and I feel bad about that.

Besides – what with Twitter accounts, a blog, Facebook, this podcast, that thing and the other… why the hell would all these people want to know everything I have to think on yet ANOTHER social networking branch?? Is there NOTHING that good on television anymore?!?

Phil ‘Bad Astronomer’ Plait wrote the following on Google +:

I’ve noticed something interesting, and I’m not sure what to make of it: more men are adding me to their circles here on Google+ than women. And not by a little; it’s by a factor of maybe 4 to 1.

When new people add me on Google+, I get a little notification. I can then see the last 10 people who added me. I’ve noticed that it’s rare that there are more than 2 or 3 women in that list, and it’s usually 1 or none. Why would that be?

… Is it a geek thing, not a science thing? … A good comparison would be to check these ratios on Twitter and Facebook as well, but I don’t know if that’s possible. I want to know this out of sheer curiosity; if there’s some deeper effect here it would be interesting to know what it is. Also, I would think that this would just be a good thing to know. Are women being excluded due to other factors that can be mediated?

[Photo is of Marian Call of]


About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.

  • Alethea H. Claw

    I’m very put off by the pseudonym fuss. On behalf of friends who want to use pseudonyms, or who have non-western standard names.

    • Aliasalpha

      The trickiest part is that if you make up a pseudonym when they tell you they’ll close your account and then think “Oh no, I’d BETTER do it properly”, they won’t let you change your name again for a month

  • Cuttlefish

    They want my real name, and I don’t have one.

    • Kylie Sturgess

      I don’t think “Cephalopoda, Sepiidae” is too difficult to go on a driver’s license….

  • Jadehawk

    thirded on the anti-pseudonym (and anti-”every name that doesn’t look right to us”) policies, especially since they are quite draconic. People had their entire google-accounts locked off, thus losing access to gmail etc.

    • citizengold

      I’d heard that the automated script that did that had been turned off. I haven’t heard of anyone having their account blocked in quite a while.

  • Lord Shplanington, Not A Frenchman

    Google+ isn’t even really a social network, it’s a tool for Google to aggregate as much sellable personal information as possible.

    I’ve already given my name to enough websites that exist entirely to stalk me. I don’t need another.

    • Keith Fyans

      “Google+ isn’t even really a social network, it’s a tool for Google to aggregate as much sellable personal information as possible.”

      I don’t see how this is different from any other social network (with the poss exception of Diaspora).

      • citizengold

        I agree with Keith here.

        The other thing I’ve noticed is that people that say these things about Google are quite happy to give their personal data and uploaded content to Facebook, who also sell it.

        I’ve not actually seen any reliable claims of Google selling personal data. They definitely use it to better target advertising, but I’ve not heard of them actually on selling the data to third parties.

  • mel

    Hate goofle. That’s what I call it. Just more drag on my time.

  • cass_m

    I am not on Facebook. I don’t want to share my information they way they wanted me to (also insisting on real names BTW) and, honestly, I couldn’t care less about people from the past finding me.

    I am on googleplus though. I did the circle thing as I was setting up. Since I am not a celeb like Phil, I don’t find it onerous to review who’s added me (maybe 3/day), check their profile and not add them if they don’t seem to fit anywhere in my circles. I like that I can easily filter stuff and block people without them knowing. I like how easy it is to share pics/vid from my android phone and tablet. I like that you can post as long as you’d like and people can have a conversation about it. I like that I can choose circles to catch up to date on without reading my entire stream. I like that IF I decide to get out, I can take my data and leave.

    I don’t see why people who have invested a lot of time in facebook would move over to G+ unless they want to easily interact with specific groups. Maybe sometime there will be tool where you can post to facebook and G+ at the same time but that would only work if you were one dimensional on G+.

  • george.w

    There are cetrtainly things i like about G+ but until they allow pseudonyms i can’t use the account for much. So many of the cool kids are ‘nyms.