How Google Plus can be more like Wilson™
Remember watching the movie Castaway, where Tom Hanks survives a plane crash and somehow grows a beard that would make a homeless man jealous in less than two hours? The only way he survived that island for so long was because he had a friend with him – Wilson, the all-knowing beach volleyball/silent type.
1. Wilson never appeared in any of Tom Hanks’ other movies
Say what you want about Wilson, but he knew his place, and he stayed there. Mainly because he didn’t have any arms and couldn’t swim off the island even if he wanted to. Google+ on the other hand, is not only a social network, it appears in every Google app, every section of Google’s services, and is even changing the standard for interacting on YouTube, Google’s latest acquisition. It’s fine if you want your social network to include connectivity with all of your products. After all, Facebook made attempts at being a search engine, an e-mail client, and a video blogging site, but at its heart, it remains a social network, and you actually have to want to type in the Facebook URL or download the Facebook app in order to access it. Too much of Google+ is making it seem as if they’re trying too hard, and the novelty is running out quite quickly.
2. Wilson had a face, some grass for hair, and that was all
Lets face it, Wilson was pretty much a product of Tom Hanks’ wild imagination. Google+ is a product of Larry Page’s imagination too, but one of them seems so cluttered with buttons, icons, pictures and representations of actions that it is very easy to get distracted. Tom Hanks knew that what he needed in an imaginary friend was a constantly smiling face, and that was all. Google+ on the other hand is a smiling face with a speech bubble, a video camera attached to his head, a bulletin board, a notebook full of your acquaintances names and carrier pigeons all in one. Even though Google+ isn’t particularly bad at doing any of those things, or even all of them at once, Google already has each of those services at their disposal, and forcing them all into one room together to make friends is likely to leave one or more of them standing awkwardly in the corner because they really don’t fit in with the rest of the kids.
3. Even without a face, Wilson would be fun to play with
Have you ever tried hitting around a volleyball? Its quite fun! Does it REALLY matter if that volleyball has a name and a face? Not really. Have you every tried using Google+ on a feed where there were no pictures at all, and just a wall of text? No? I have a feeling that Google actually tries its hardest to avoid this happening. Every time I go through my feed, I get distracted every two seconds by the next picture that pops up in a new post, or a thumbnail to a link that I really don’t care about. Even though I really would like to not have all the constant distractions, I think that if I ever saw a Google+ feed without any of it, it would bore me to death.
4. Once you’re done with Wilson, you can deflate him and put him back in his box
I’m sure I’m not the only person that has created a profile on a social network just to see what all the hype is about, only to realize that I really don’t like it. Have you ever tried deleting your account? Nine times out of ten, it won’t let you, and you’re stuck with it forever. Your friends will ask you why you never post, and you’ll have to make up some excuse about how you really meant to wish them a happy birthday, but you couldn’t remember your password… Why can’t we opt out? Because they want to force us to be their friends, like that one kid in school who you just couldn’t get away from.