I know it’s a little early in the blogging period, but I’m going to riff off the soapbox while it’s still fresh. Lately, between the man-handling of YouTube and the big updates to Hangouts, Google has been taking a lot of my attention. Maybe some context first.
This time two years ago, I hated Google. I was a noisy one man army who was the first to spit on everything they made. All of the frustration was there, but I had absolutely nothing to back it up. That is because this time two years ago, I also had no idea how to use a computer. If a file wasn’t on my desktop in an easily recognizable picture, it didn’t exist. The compass icon at the bottom of my mac dock was simply called “the internet”. No joke – I once deleted my entire iTunes library because I thought the folder looked unimportant.
Figure 1: You guys are doing it all wrong. The Internet is THIS one.
But all of the frustration was still there. And good frustrations lead to well-formed opinions. After trying out Google Chrome in a dark closet far away from my more tech-savvy friends, I had to admit that it was pretty slick. There were plenty more greener pastures for me in Google’s meadow. After signing up for Gmail, I no longer had to put up with having to clear unread emails on both my phone and my computer (and for my fellow cavemen still dwelling in the dark recesses of a Comcast email address, I’d invite you to take your first hit of an IMAP capable inbox). I’ll be the first to admit that Google is just impressive in some things. You should have seen me when I updated the Hangouts app on my phone – I was giggling like an anime heroine when I found that I could now smoothly handle SMS and MMS through my favorite messaging app. The fact that I can set a calendar appointment with an address, causing Google to omnisciently offer to navigate me there promptly twenty-five minutes before a twenty-minute drive is slick. We have all been impressed by Google, who has built a well-earned reputation of being the Thompson Tank of indexing web-driven data.
Figure 2: Google Now is like Siri – except it doesn’t repeat everything you say - you know - like an idiot.
The New Apple
But since when did Google users become the new Apple? Maybe that’s confusing.
Pretend for a second that I don’t think Apple products suck (and if you didn’t know that, just play with your smart phone for a minute or two while I stuff all the doves back into my coat sleeve). To mac users out there – whenever you happen to be around computer people, do you ever get the impression that they just automatically don’t like you? Non-coincidentally, I’d imagine it starts to set in soon after you out yourself with the sticker on your car or the time you let the phrase cheapen the user experience slip.
Figure 3: User experience is too precious to be cheapened. I’m just wondering why you haven’t printed this out and brought it to the lady that cuts your hair.
But maybe you do use Apple and you’re not a douche about it. I’m all about someone using what works for them. But my point is that Apple’s advertising campaign is what gave you a bad reputation – which is earning you all kinds of smug passive aggression from everyone at Best Buy.
People hate your company because it uses so many resources that didn’t go into software to focus on advertising. It was clear Apple’s chief agenda was to create a culture – a walled garden of individuals who always began any definition of themselves with their Apple ID and password – even if it meant cutting some corners and shipping some products out that just didn’t work. While the obvious Think Different slogan was a clear stance of aloofness from the beginning, even the fact that they wrote an operating system exclusive to their own hardware perpetuated the dogma that Apple thought they were special.
If I am hitting any nerves here, allow me to skip the pin-pricks and just cut straight to the epidural. You are not unique because you use Apple products. You are not creative because you use Apple products. You do not think differently because you use Apple products.
Stop laughing, Google users. I’m just about to get to you. In fact, the rhyme between this song of vanity and the one you guys are pitching is more rhythmic than you’d like to admit.
<p> The Google user pocket is <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2013/08/20/technology/enterprise/google-states/"> definitively wealthy </a> , mainly <a href=""> twenty-something year old males </a> . Go ahead and do what I just did – take a minute to dig around the web for writers staking the claim that Google+ users are <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/google-users-just-nicer-2011-7"> smarter and nicer </a> than everyone else (and no – I wasn’t unfair with the wording. I was actually just plagiarizing the title of the article I linked to). </p>
I hope Google continues to flex the muscles that brought them to the big time, but I’m going to take an Internet minute here to call Google users out. You are not smarter because you use Google. Your relationships are not more meaningful because you use Google+. You are not the only one who really needs email because you use Gmail. You are not more aware because you use Google.
The Fragmented Life
Google’s popular One Account. All of Google philosophy comes to mind here. It is Google’s goal to fulfill every information and communication need you have -
So they can better advertise to you . You did know Google’s primary income is coming from people who want to sell you things – don’t you? And you’re aware that Google makes so much money because in the time you can check your email, search for the nearest drug store, and blast your No Strings Attached album in the privacy of your locked car, Google has already shown you a dozen products you don’t yet own. This an extremely tantalizing opportunity for companies who want you to buy things. Why settle for a television commercial every twenty minutes that is easily circumvented by TiVo or a bathroom break. Thanks to Google, the shakers can be a part of your every day life. They are just as present when you RSVP to a wedding as they are when you are writing your research paper.
And they are learning about you . Every search, paste, link, and cookie with your IP address on it becomes a resource for teaching advertisers how to influence you. In Google’s world, you are the product. The real customers go unnoticed – having access to more information than decades worth of surveys.
I didn’t mean to be so dramatic. I just have to say it – because so many people don’t know this is Google’s flagship enterprise. They are not just being nice to you. They don’t care about your videos, school assignments, and calendar events. This is just the bait to get you to see a product you don’t yet own.
But I shouldn’t be so dark about it. I actually don’t mind the extra set of eyes on my Amazon shopping if it means I don’t have to ever see one of those hot, sexy Christian singles ads. But mark my words, if you are going to sell my information, you better have some damn good bait to lure me in.
Figure 4: Very subtle, Facebook. I know it was you because I listed myself as a Christian. I wonder if that’s a heterosexual set of feet underneath those impeccably clean bedsheets.
To Each, Their Own
Which is, ultimately, my point. If you are going to use a Google app or an iDevice, do it because it works for you. If these people want to own your life and sell your information to all kinds of invisible demons and predators that are poisoning our culture from the gut out, make them work for it. Don’t buy into the culture: the reason Apple users are so special – the charm of a true Googler – the… musk… of an Internet Explorer. The point is – don’t be such a cheap product. Choose your jersey before the game, but always be ready to jump ship. Nobody owns you. It’s all about finding ways to make your life easier.
So Google is looking for the one unifying identity that brings everything together. One account - right? Google overlooked something. The common denominator is you. And you are so much bigger than what Google can index. You are too unique to just be summarized under the quaint, easily-amused clan of Googlers . You might use a mac to work on, but that’s not what makes you really creative. I’m sick of seeing bumper stickers and company logo decals in place of beautiful handwriting, truly gifted multitaskers, and ideas so off-putting that they just can’t be unoriginal.
Forget Google. Forget Apple. Forget Facebook. Just get things done, and whatever can’t keep up with you, throw it in the garbage next to your junkmail and the chicken breast you overcooked.
Off the soapbox now. Thank you for your attention, dear readers. Now if you’ll excuse me – I have another chicken breast to burn.