I get it from my mother. Whenever I have an opinion or feel strongly about something, I just can’t help myself: it comes out. Usually, this actually doesn’t bite me in the butt, despite the Sicilian blood that boils and the wild hand motions that illustrate, well, everything I say.
That’s because, amongst friends, my strong opinions largely don’t matter, since friends are most likely those people in your life who share your same viewpoints.
But then there’s the world of tech folk.
Technology is a game of speed, firsts, newness, uniqueness, and wow…umm…-ness? As a result, those who consider themselves tech enthusiasts like to let it all hang out and compare. It’s a gross, archaic, caveman-like contest of whose is better, bigger, and gets more action - you know, socially.
I’m talking, of course, about their social networks. (Why? What were you thinking?)
Anyways, back to my love of opinion-sharing. I worked on Google+ while at Google, beginning in January of 2011. I was invited down to New York to see the early product (before Google+ was the official name, before it was launched to early adopters, and before people knew that Google+ was a divisive subject that would become the butt of plenty of nerd jokes). As a result of my early exposure and love of my then-employer, I gravitated instantly towards this new social network with the slick UI and the big-picture potential that they pitched to us. (More on that another time.)
Since leaving Google, however, I can’t resist inserting my views of the network into conversations about social media. And of course, the rebuttals start coming. I’ve heard it all:
“Google+ is so quiet, it’s like a grave.”
“Google+ is such a stupid-head.”
“You use Google+? Ew, that has cooties.”
(I don’t have particularly clever friends in tech…)
But okay, dim-witted friends, I get it: you don’t need Google+. Facebook has all your friends, Twitter has all your instant updates from your professional circle (and famous people), and LinkedIn is where you upload your resume and occasionally spam others with intro requests.
But none of this should matter! Literally NOTHING should matter about any social network’s features or user base or the pop culture cache of using it. Nothing.
To a user, it shouldn’t matter that Twitter allows for 140 characters or following without follow-backs. To a user, it shouldn’t matter that Facebook has photos and friends. To a user, it shouldn’t matter that Google+ has video chat (Hangouts) or real-time comments.
Sure, we FOCUS on those things because features become the product and the product becomes the “what” - the “tangible” thing you can describe. But, like everything in life, all that SHOULD matter is the “why” - WHY do you use it? What should matter is whether the social network accomplishes the task for which you need it.
For me, all that matters with a social network is that “why” elemet: I use social networks to interact with interesting people and to learn stuff through others. And Google+ works quite well for this for me, as does Twitter. (My Facebook account has been relegated to engagement announcements, weekend photos, and the occasional funny video.)
If ANY social network you use is good at what you’ve “hired it” to do, then great! Use that network. It could be called KittenVille and force everyone to create feline avatars that congregate on Mars for all I care. If you can connect with interesting people and learn from that, that’s alllllll that should matter.
So I’ll continue to be loud about the opinions I have, including which social network I use. Because it doesn’t actually matter which network I use. All that matters is that, like any product, it succeeds at the job that I’ve picked it to do FOR ME.