My dissatisfaction with All Things Google has grown slowly over time, starting with the release of Google Buzz, Google’s first spectacularly failed attempt at The Social. I will admit I found Buzz interesting for all of about a month, just long enough for me to get stuck in that digital tarpit with no way to cleanly back out. By the time Google realized just how badly they’d screwed it up, I’d long since forgotten my first foray into this experiment. I was grateful when it was finally taken out behind Google HQ and mercifully euthanized. But that wasn’t the end of Google’s nefarious social plans.
At the time that Buzz was in its final death throes, Google was beginning to beta test Google+, it’s next experiment in The Social. Having learned my lesson via Buzz I was in no great hurry to participate. In point of fact I’d developed such an aversion to any Google social service that I’d made a solemn promise to myself not to get involved. And it would have stayed that way until, one day, I had Google+ shoved down my throat via my Google Mail account. Since that time Google+ has been bolted onto every other Google service, until now Google has admitted they’re turning Google+ into the foundational platform for all other Google services, including the service that got them started, search. Thus every single human being who comes into contact with any Google service is going to be touched by Google+ whether they want it or not. Welcome to The Social, Google style.
Let me admit up front I have a Google+ account, with perhaps a dozen or so contacts. And that I hate it, and that hatred grows unabated.
Google’s monomaniacal drive to shove Google+ down our collective throat is one reason I was driven to search out a new blogging platform. But I can’t avoid Google+ because Sergey has decreed that we shall all be Google Plusers and we shall like it. It’s acceptance has become, implicitly, part of the terms of service for using mail and search.
Nothing will foment rebellion in my heart faster than to tell me I have to accept something that is absolutely unnecessary for me, except as yet another way for you to relentlessly monetize me along with the other millions (nee billions) who use your “free” services.
Look, I get that running all that hardware costs money. Salaries for all those genius engineers costs more money. Along with all the special perks you rain down on them to keep them pampered and productive. And I accepted ad placement in my search results as a way to pay for my “free” search and email. In spite of what so many desire, There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Especially not on the web.
But there comes a point where I want to say, “Enough.” Enough to personal information gathering in particular, regardless of who’s doing it. I’ve become especially sensitive to my loss of personal privacy with regards to the NSA’s total trolling for information. After all, where do you think the NSA picked up the tools and learned the techniques for mass surveillance? Google Mail.
I’m slowly extricating myself from Google and its services. Right now the only Google services I use directly are Mail and Search. I have a small collection of photos on Picassa and my older blog is still being hosted on Blogger (but all content creation is now here). The biggest switch is going to be from Mail, but the switch is inevitable. And once that switch is made it will be the full monty, as everything else will have been decommissioned. It won’t be easy leaving Google Mail. I’ve been using Google Mail since 20 February 2005, and I have over 6,000 messages spanning the last nine years on it. Everybody in the world that knows of me knows my Google Mail address (especially the spammers and bill collectors). Perhaps that ubiquitous knowledge is yet another reason to change…
2014 is going to be the year of Going Googleless for me. We’ll see how that works out.