My favorite social forum has been Google Reader for a good couple few years now. Honest discussion, silly trolling, and safe exploration have been its key features to me. I remember forcing myself to notice how seamlessly they integrated the comments feature, how it became an intrinsic part of my life easily in exactly the way puberty didn’t. We talked gender, culture, ideals, memes, and love. I saw romances unfold and collapse, revolutions half start and dissolve or evolve, friendships be shaken and cemented.
It was a safe place because I could say who had access to my shares and comments, but also see how “outsiders” interacted on the shares of dear friends. It was intellectual and thought-provoking because it was based on content, not social exchanges. It introduced people dear to my Tribe in a way that was based around shared ideals and interactive thoughts, not popularity or witticisms. And most of all, it was a way to normalize my friendships and emotional connection during constant travel. I always knew, no matter what timezone I was in, that someone had shared something, commented on someone else’s shares, and would have the consistency in character and access that geography and timezones made cognitively dissonent otherwise.
I’ve laughed at the persistent humor and intelligence of friends left in other geographies. I’ve seen and cherished the exploration and shift of gender, sexuality, and relationships of tender souls. I’ve learned about fashion and pleating and nails, things I never would have cared about but now find fascinating. I’ve trolled about Juggalos and claimed BUNK. This medium has allowed me the closeness of connection, the vulnerabilities, and the rejoicing that closely approximate real life. To someone whose “local” is geographically distributed, this has meant the world to me. It let me determine how public I was, and that is a rare and beautiful thing. And now, in yet one more place, my friendships and thoughts have become a commodity.
Apparently the same usability exists to people on G+, with some changes to make people “click” more instead of delving deep into the content, assessing, and responding. It’s more public, more based on how many followers you have. As someone who is fairly well-followed, I will be clear that the only way I can be as awesome as I am is because of my core group of dear friends. My dear friends who, as cristobat (of course a sharebro) says, “you don’t have to be cool around.” My dear friends who I can share a post about disaster response next to an image one of my kinks next to an article about cyborgs and their only response it to comment honestly about each in a way which honors, questions, and builds upon those aspects of my Self.
I can’t join G+ because I have an odd name, and risk losing acces to the other tools of theirs I use. Yes, they’re allowing pseudonyms soon, but there will be several weeks at least in the interim. Google, why are you succumbing to a broken system of “clickiness” instead of standing up for the very real, very dear exchanges that occur on your established tool? It’s like a city cutting taxes by removing the arts. Sure, it benefits a few people in the short term, but the long term societal effects are disastrous. I thought you would be better than that. I guess I was wrong. A strong and informed community would have been more beneficial to you in the long run than any capitalistic metrics of potential consumers ever would.
I uploaded screencaps of some of my favorite GReader exchanges. You have to be a friend on Flickr to see them, because they are sensitive. Ping me if you don’t have access and think you should. You can also see the Lexicon for an index of ways we’ve interacted and might one day interact again in the future.
Farewell, Dear Reader. It’s been great.