As much as I love Twitter and Facebook, I often feel that I can’t be my most casual self in those places.
On Facebook, there are family sensibilities to consider. On Twitter, which I use to promote my blog and freelance writing and connect with other bloggers, I want to use language that is professional and appeal to as many sensibilities as possible.
So, my basic complaint is that I having no place to cuss. And sometimes? You just need to swear to folks who will understand.
This is where Google+ and the concept of circles has come in. Family, friends, co-workers: you have different things to talk about with each group of people.
Google+ offers some default circles: friends, family, acquaintances, following — but you can create custom circles to meet your needs. No one knows what circle you’ve placed them in, because, well, that could get awkward. Also, you can place people in more than one circle.
Before posting, you select the appropriate circle (or circles – you can choose more than one) for that particular post.
I use circles so I can curse without fear of offense.
For my close friends, I may say:
For a more general audience, the message might be:
Of course, circles can have a much broader application than just reputation preservation. They can act as spam prevention. You can have a circle for your blogging friends, where you link helpful posts from the Eli | Rose Social Media blog. Another circle has knitting friends, where you post a link to a story on yarn bombing. Another circle contains co-workers, where you invite everyone to drinks after work.
You don’t have to fill up the streams of your friends with things that have no relevance for them.
The thing I like best about circles is how quirky they allow you to be. You can organize circles according to your own bizarre tendencies. For example, I am constantly resisting temptation to tweet everything I’m thinking: my legs need shaving, I’m mad at my boss, I don’t want to cook dinner or do laundry, my library books are so overdue I’m going to return them in the middle of the night so I don’t embarrass myself, etc. Obviously, a string of banal tweets like this would spell the end of my 700 followers. So I created an empty circle where I can rant, complain and ramble until my fingers ache from typing without annoying anyone or endangering my career prospects.
So, head on over to Google+. Create some circles, have some fun, cuss up a storm.
One cautionary note: while it may be tempting, I strongly discourage creating a circle (or circles) where you can complain about people in your other circles. It’s bad karma, and sooner or later, you’re going to post it in the wrong circle.
And Thanksgiving dinner will never be the same.
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Sue Campbell is a freelance writer and business systems analyst in Portland, Oregon, where she bridges the gap between techies and technophobes. She blogs at Mommy’s Pen, tweets under the handle of @MommysPen, and rarely curses in either of those forums.