On Circles and Circling

On Facebook, you friend someone. On Twitter, you follow them, and they follow you. On Google+ though, you add them to your circle.

You would think Google would understand the importance of having the right verb here. After all, because of how awesome their search engine is we now “Google” things. But saying “I added you to my circle” is awkward, and way to long for the internet. Let’s simplify it like average users will. I imagine as Google+ picks up, people will talk more and more about circling one another.

But what the hell does circling someone look like?

At first, I see it almost like someone would mark a hit list.

Google Plus Circle - The Anti-Social Media

But I can also see it as a satanic ritual.

Google Plus Circle 2 - The Anti-Social Media

Or, we could literally make someone into a circle, which sounds terribly painful.

Google Plus Circle 3 - The Anti-Social Media

Either way, none of these convey a positive image. Who knew I had such a negative relationship with circles? Given this revelation, I might go back to Facebook just because I have “friends” there. And though I’ve argued, fought, and been humiliated in public settings by my friends, I’ve never been abused by them like circles have abused me.

What do you think of Google’s choice of language here? Does it make sense? Does it give you crazy images in your head? Or am I the only one who was traumatized by simple shapes at an early age?

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23 Responses to “On Circles and Circling”

  1. Kelsie Murdock July 13, 2011 at 9:22 am #

    Now that you point this out, it does seem very awkward. And I will forever picture that poor little stick figure bent into a circle. My mom is a preschool teacher and had a student one time cry to her, “Carter bended me like a cat!” I now feel that I have a very strong visual for this!

    I’m still waiting for Google+ to really “click” for me. It took a few days for me to get into Twitter, maybe this will be a similar case. Right now it feels like Twitter with longer tweets, as you can’t really write on someone’s “wall” or profile. But it differs in that everyone actually has a “profile.” So maybe it’s actually just more of an extended version of Twitter?

    I would love to hear how you are using Google+ and how you envision using it in the future.

    • Jay July 13, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

      I post my blog posts on it, and I leave snarky comments. I don’t really have a method yet, but I’ve sorted people into “Coworkers” “Friends” “Internet Friends” and “Family.” Not that exciting, I know.

      And I really hope no one ever bends like my cat. She’s is freakishly flexible.

  2. Christine Seib July 13, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    It’s better than the idea they had in testing: dump your connections in buckets. Gave participants nightmares.

    • Jay July 13, 2011 at 9:22 pm #

      I’m so glad no one has ever dumped me in a bucket, or dumped a bucket on me, or taken a dump while I’m in a bucket.

  3. John R July 13, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    They also played with the idea of “segmenting” your friends, but gave up on that one too.

    • Jay July 13, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

      I think segment, and the only thing I can think of is The Human Centipede.

  4. Jonathan July 13, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    I’ve been using “circle” as a verb in my limited interactions with Google+. It’s sort of awkward, but not really any worse than “waving” at people in Google Wave. I think Google is assuming we’ll just deal with this sort of awkwardness.

    • Jay July 13, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

      Google just wants to destroy the English language and make us all more awkward.

  5. Kia July 13, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    I thought of 2 different circles, the circles of hell, which i named all my G+ circles after and the trust circle where some people are pushed outside the circle. I’m thinking G+ used the latter as the descriptions of friends vs family says you don’t necessarily trust family more.

    • Jay July 13, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

      See, now I want to go rename all my circles after all the circles of hell and the coirs of heaven. Instead I’ll just keep them as snarky notes to myself.

  6. Dave July 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    They couldn’t name it Lists because then it would be 100% the same feature as Facebook. Gotta differentiate somehow!

    I actually like the name better than “List” though. You feel comfortable being in someone’s “circle.” Being on someone’s “List” makes it sound like you’re next to die.

    • Jay July 13, 2011 at 9:17 pm #

      Also, who keeps their friends on lists?

      I would have gone with cliques. It would have made me feel so much cooler than I was in high school.

  7. Stephanie July 13, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    Google = evil empire of brain washed engineers
    Google DOES NOT = Bunch of people who have friends

    I cant believe that anyone is shocked by the awkwardness of circles… they are a search company trying to be friends with people and more importantly trying to win… sad thing is they might just do it ;(

    • Jay July 13, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

      They’re not awkward. I actually like the functionality.

      Someone at google has to be cool. Have you seen their doodles? Maybe they asked that person how to be social.

  8. Jerome Pineau July 13, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    It’s “none of these conveyS” - “none” being singular :)

    • Jay July 13, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

      I consulted with my social media team, and we are all in agreement that it should be convey.

      In other news, grammar is not a priority on this blog. Bacon and cats naturally are.

      • Jerome Pineau July 14, 2011 at 12:56 am #

        Well perhaps, but as the post topic pertains to semantics, I thought it was at the very least of interest to point out the subject-verb discrepancy :)

  9. Ashley Sue Bullers @AshleySue July 13, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

    I personally kept thinking of it as someone walking, in a circle, around another. My feet would get really tired… and I’d be bored. And why walk around someone? To check them out head to toe? Feels skeeve. Quite the perv.

    • Jay July 13, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

      The other thing I think of is surrounding a person, like a group of muggers, or satanic cult before they tie you to a pentagram.

  10. Social Media Puto July 14, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    The Social Media Puto commends Google for it’s choice of verb.

    After all, Social Media is nothing but a giant circle jerk.

  11. KeAnne July 14, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

    Haven’t tried any circles yet due to other engagements, but I like the Dante/circle idea. Sadly, geometry was one of my worst subjects, so I think I am allergic to circles.

    BTW, not that you are losing sleep over it, but your subject-verb agreement regarding none and convey is correct. Your usage of ” these” clearly denotes plurality ;-)

  12. About Web July 15, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    You’re the only one who was traumatized by simple shapes, lol. Think of circles like groups that we have on facebook. You can create groups of friends, and add each of them to the corresponding group/circle.

  13. Marta July 16, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    It’s weird. Google is trying to become Facebook. Personally, I hope it fails.

    And to make this whole Google+ system even creepier, now when I search for something with the Google search engine, Google will ASSUME that my “circle’s” opinions are of the utmost importance to me and will be sorting my searches by the things my “Circle’s” have been searching and “plus-ing” and commenting on. UH - YUK! … and NO! …

    When I do a search, it’s because my personal resources are limited and I want new and different information that none of them have found yet. I don’t want my searches organized by what my “circles” are talking about, liking and reading. I want NEW information.

    I will be using Bing’s search engine now. (which is again frustrating b/c they’re stealing google’s methodologies. -= pffft)

    If Google has their way, pretty soon, we’ll all be hudddled into tiny circles of self-important, self-referring tail following and thinking that all the news in our “circle” is all the news we need. Exactly the opposite of what the internet should provide.

    That’s all I can type right now - I have to go throw-up.

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