Do We Really Need More Social Networking with Google+?

Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Friendster, heck, even LinkedIn -- social networking has reached (in my opinion) critical mass, and each social network is not without its disaffected users. My solution? Call your friends to hang out. But apparently, Google has decided to introduce its version of social networking to address the needs of the socially displaced. Enter: Google+, designed to 'fix' all those problems you have with those other social networks. Not convinced? Me neither. Read on and find out ...

Google+ breaks itself down into four major categories: +Circles, +Sparks, +Mobile and +Hangouts. +Circles lets users create groups to categorize the people they're connected to, so they don't accidentally share photos from that booze cruise with their boss or mom. +Mobile lets users get at their social information on the go, and automatically uploads photos. It also includes +Huddle, a feature that directly texts/chats a user's group of +Circles friends. For those not on the go, there's +Hangout, a way to let friends who (presumably) are also sitting at home on the computer know you're available for spontaneous video chatting. Lastly, there's +Sparks, a way to share with your +Circles friends links and other web content and comment on it, like a mini-forum.

Sounds just like my Thursday night. With my friends. In person.

In all seriousness, Google+ addresses one of the biggest issues with social media right now: the inability to compartmentalize who you want to share information with. But outside of this feature, the rest is just more of the same. I can't help but feeling like +Hangout actively encourages people to sit at home 'hanging out' on the 'Net, hoping some other user will be there to video chat and fill the void that physical friends provide. +Sparks isn't exactly game-changing in the way users share stuff they like with their friends (be it web forums, e-mails or Twitter) and +Huddle is effectively a glorified Group MMS, albeit a bit more in real-time.

There's no doubt people will flock to the platform -- it certainly has addressed social networking (and content-sharing) woes, but I'll be a bit skeptical of it until I can actually use it. More importantly, will I actually want to use it? Facebook and other large-scale social networking platforms have left me with a bad taste in my mouth and the lingering sensation that it fosters addictions and/or creates voyeurists and exhibitionists of us all.

The only social networking I use is Twitter, and it's because I find it refreshing people can say what they need to in 140 characters.

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