Facebook is a great social network to stay in touch with your friends and family. It should stay this way because it is the only thing Facebook does well. Some people may find my following argument irrelevant, but to me, it is crucial: aesthetic.
Simply put, Facebook is ugly. The user interface is clumsy, the colors are repulsive, if you don’t have an ad blocker the ads are obtrusive, etc. I just can’t get around its design philosophy. Therefore, the less time I spend on this website, the better my eyes feel and consequently, my sanity is conserved. Every single time I log on Facebook, it is frustrating to count the amount of content I don’t care about that pops on my screen, and the settings are so hard to access (and it is like that deliberately) that I never dig into them to solve this inconvenience. There is so much useless content, scam posts, and games on Facebook that you easily get distracted from what you were there to accomplish at first. I know that it is a widely adopted social network, and that my future students will undoubtedly be using it, but despite these valid advantages I don’t think I would ask them to use this platform for my class.
Overall, I don’t appreciate the experience and to add to my displeasure, its mobile solutions (mobile webpage and application alternative) are unstable, slow, laggy, and a tablet version of the application is only available on iOS. This point alone is a major drawback to me, because the world of technology is shifting towards mobility, and microtechnology, and Facebook is severely lacking in that department. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate Facebook, but I don’t try to pretend that it is something it is not. And to me, this website is not a work tool. Can I live without Facebook? No. I tried and failed miserably after one day. I have to be honest and admit that I go on Facebook more than I should. However, I use it to stay in touch with my entourage thanks to its useful chat client and to post many impertinent moments of my life. If I want to be productive and use digital tools, I seek other alternatives. So, unless I am constrained to use Facebook for a professional purpose, I will keep using this social network as my guilty pleasure, and I will encourage my students to keep it that way too.
But what else is available? Fret no more dear readers: I present you Google+! Google+ is the most powerful social network available, end of discussion. Before explaining what Google+ can do for you, here is what you get by creating a Google account: a Gmail address, personalized web search and location, 15 gigabytes of free storage on Google Drive, access to Google Hangouts for chatting and video calling, Google Documents, Google Photos, a YouTube profile, and much more!
Many will criticize the fact that Google violates our privacy, but something important you have to keep in mind is that when you connect any device you own to the Internet, it is done. Your personal information is retrieve by your Internet provider and the company who runs your operating system. So to me, the argument that Google is evil because it reads our email is invalid. When you go on the Internet you accept the fact that a secret server somewhere knows everything about you. Adding to that, Google offers a comprehensive policies and principles webpage.
Google+ is more than just a social platform. Essentially, it is built to accompany the Google ecosystem and its services we use everyday. Google+ is somewhat of an extension to your Google experience. Every Google apps communicate with each-other and Google+ accelerates and simplifies this process. It is truly a unique experience, and once you get a hold on it, you really start to understand how powerful this tool is.
Google+ is built around the concept of circles. You can have as many types of circles you want. This way, everything you share is easily manageable because you choose which circles (or persons) can see your posts. You can also select extended circles if you want people in the circles of your circles to see your posts, but for the sake of privacy, it is a better idea to always select “my circles” or “custom” to manually select which of your many circles will be able to see your posts (select share with all your circles or only with your “friends” circle, etc). The defining feature of this architecture is that, unlike Facebook, if someone is not in one of your circles, he will never, ever be able to see your information, your pictures or old posts. Moreover, You don’t have to create a new account, let’s say, for work. You want colleagues in your circles? Create a “work” circle and all the other things on your profile will be invisible to them! They will never see your vacation pictures if you didn’t choose to share them with this particular circle on the first place. The same thing goes for your personal information! Oh, and don’t worry, no one except you can see how many circles you have and in which circles you choose to put your contacts. Google+ really is impressive and yes, beautifully designed.
You can follow pretty much any company, news outlet or personality you like. Google+ is more crowded than you might think. You can create your own magazine by following the things you are interested in. Basically, Google and its many web apps can become the only thing you need when you open your web browser. I am not saying that it should be the way to go, be this just goes to show how much complete and powerful the tools Google is providing actually are. When you create your Google account, your are given a lot of useful software that you may end up using on a daily basis.
Ultimately, this is what motivates my decision to make my future students discover Google+. There is a ton of value coming from this registration and on the long run, they will benefit from this ecosystem more than if they just keep using Facebook. Google is filled with great products that will actually help students get things done at school, at home, and pretty much everywhere if they own a mobile device, and all of that for free. If you are looking for an efficient way to interact with your peers, look no further than Google Apps and Google+.
In the end, is one social network enough? My definitive answer is no because I will always prone diversity. Facebook does a tremendous job at connecting people and helping them to share things that matter to them, but it does not go beyond that, and what Facebook does not do, Google does.
P.S. The Google+ app on iOS and Android is absolutely exquisite. Take a look at it if you happen to have a smartphone or a tablet or both!