It was not so long ago that I raved about the coming of Google+ and my desire to rid myself of Facebook now that a sensible social network was in town. Now I am eating my words. Following Violet Blue’s many Google+ posts I had to write something.
That’s not to say that Google+ doesn’t have the potential to be a great social network, to bring Facebook’s reign to an end and provide a space for you to be yourself, whichever self you fancy being. It just seems that Google don’t share the vision that many of the early adopters of Google+ do. Instead it would seem that they are much more a “my way or the highway” company, even with the failures of Wave and Buzz so close in their rear-view mirror. The teenage attitude that the Google+ have adopted will be its downfall, again, as masses of users are either deleted for ToS violations or leave before the former happens.
The killer will, of course, be it’s “real names” policy. I have seen very little, if anything, positive about Google+ since it began enforcing this particular rule, and, while I still currently have my G+ account I am seriously considering deletion before I get caught. You see, I don’t use my “real name” on there. Partly for a degree of privacy; I do not wish my family to be associated with my, mostly controversial, opinions or to become victims of any form of abuse due to my mental health problems, sexual choices or political feelings. But partly, it’s also a lot easier for people to find me if I use my online name.
Since re-branding the blog, in fact since starting up my new twitter account, I have been known as “Mrs TeePot.” Indeed this is how many people refer to me, it’s how people introduce me at Blog events, it is, as far as the majority know, my name. I have a Facebook account in this name, a twitter account, a Youtube account, indeed across the internet you will find me spouting my opinions under this handle. It’s me. It feels like me and it represents me, more so than my birth name.
The reason it represents me so well is that it comes with none of the history that my birth name does. It has allowed me to cultivate a presence that is truly me, as I am now, free of the mistakes of my childhood, teenage years and any judgement that may come with them. Under my chosen name I am free to be myself, to express my true opinions and evolve as a person, away from the fear that comes with having ones “oops” moments associated with their real name. Because, while I am in no way ashamed of my mental health, sexual preferences or anything else, if I find myself in a position where I can work then it will affect my job prospects and I would rather be hired on my merit than rejected because I openly speak about my struggles.
My online name and persona is the “real me,” because it is free of the constraints that come with being a “real person” and it is also a person who I am proud of and by forcing me, or anyone else, to use their birth name Google are destroying my ability to be myself.
Disappointed doesn’t seem to cover my feelings, especially after my excitement at getting an invite, and with Facebook’s privacy farce continuing a large part of me wants to disappear from social networking altogether. Of course, the sensible thing would be to create a new social network which takes the best of each and embraces the freedom that a level of anonymity can provide. Sadly I am lacking in almost all the skills required to make that happen, but surely someone out there is working on a network where privacy and the needs of the users comes before rules and regulations that make it pointless?