If we keep on comparing everything to Facebook we are forgetting that people are the objects that create the community. Each community from Facebook to G+ to Pinterest to all the others we interact with, we have created those communities. Each one has its place, and each community is like visiting the different communities in the cities we live in. We have our China Towns, our downtown districts, our parks, and neighborhoods and other places we interact with.
Facebook feels like a major downtown district, it is Times Square; everyone goes there at least once in their lives if they can afford it and gawks at the tall edifices that companies and other people have built around their reputations. It is so noisy so chaotic, that we can easily become overwhelmed with the experience.
Google Plus feels more like the arts district, it is our own Freemont Seattle, pictures, books, arts, creativity, and places to hang out and talk about esoteric things with your friends over coffee. It is brilliant in its own way, and while devoid of hipsters, G+ is a thriving dynamic arts community that we can go visit, see beautiful things, and be inspired.
Pinterest has ended up being our fashion district, or our place for personal inspiration, and sometimes a place for our darker thoughts about our self-image, our self-esteem, our place in the world in relationship to who we interact with. It is our place for darker secrets to be exposed by what we idealize ourselves to be, or who we want to be from body image to cooking to shoes.
MySpace has become the run down tenement district filled with dark corners, advertising at its basest level, it is our place to take a look at those who are less fortunate, maybe find people who are living on the darker side of the planet. It is our ghetto, our place to go gawk at the natives and wonder what will become of them later on in life. It is like a dark jazz club in 1930’s Harlem, people go, but lord knows you do not want to be photographed there.
Instagram is our scrap book; it is a place where we drop our memories from where we are, regardless of what we think we are doing. It is food, people, places, snapshots of our lives in ways that no other neighborhood can be. It is our place to push our memories, events, people, and places, things, where we are now, now now, not five seconds ago now. It is our box of memories that we tuck under the virtual bed and sometimes look at and smile thinking how much fun it was to be there.
That is what makes all the discussion around G+ being a ghost town, or indeed anything else being a ghost town. We miss the vibrant communities that have been built up around our personalities. We do not look at them as if they were districts in one big community like Seattle, or even a global community. We have our hucksters, our get rich quick people, and our people standing on street corners with baggies of items that will put your brain into altered states of consciousness. We have all that, and these are the communities that have been built up by the user base.
Some are darker and seedier than others, but if we look at the social landscape as districts in a city, or provinces in a country then we are going to realize that each one of these social communities, even Twitter all serve a purpose, they serve a neighborhood, they serve an area with the things that those who have built the communities feel are important. Ghost town or no, each one has carved a special place in their member’s hearts and minds, and if we deal with each of these communities like the unique expressions of who we are when we are visiting the area, then we can forget about the “ghost town” effect.
We all built this on the software that companies thought would be cool, it is time to start realizing that we have built multiple dynamic communities, just like we build neighborhoods in our cities.
(Cross-posted @ Techwag)