Closed down my G+ account
Back in 2010 when I deleted my Facebook account it was mainly because I didn't like the way the company was constantly changing their policies and privacy settings. Things I knew I had turned off would be mysteriously turned on again, and they were manipulating how I saw the content posted by users that I followed. Google Plus worked so much more how I thought a social media system should work, and I enjoyed using it. Facebook was centered around real people I knew, but if my interests were different from those folks Facebook made it difficult to find "new" friends - unless they were somehow related to people I already knew. Twitter provided a way to follow interesting folks without appearing to be a creep, and Google Plus worked similarly.
My decision this week to stop using Google Plus really has nothing to do with how the system functions or even Google's policies. In fact, I was able to export all of my Google Plus posts and links (including comments made on them) into a readable HTML archive which opens without issue in my web browser. Props to Google for making a system that respects its users in this regard. The truth is, I just feel like reducing my digital footprint a bit. Interactions with readers have become meaner and more partisan of late and I suddenly feel like I can't express myself without getting called names. More and more users on the system appear to be fake accounts passing around political or divisive memes.
Another annoyance to me is that I don't like how things I write are getting buried deeper and deeper into a system I don't control. All media is designed to constantly hype the latest attention grabbing information which necessarilly pushes older or less sensational content out of the way. Even my own website works this way (reverse chronological order) but curating older content on a social media system is very difficult. To find older content you have to scroll backwards in time (facebook at least provides a dated table of contents to make this easier) but loading this content over the web is painfully slow going due to the latency (laggy) nature of the web and the various scripting technologies used to make these dynamic sites.
The exercise of reviewing all of my Google Plus posts since 2011 and deleting them was very tedious. It was interesting how many posts were links to content on the web which no longer existed. Videos that have been taken down, web pages where the hosting site has gone to a new platform and decided not to keep the old URL scheme (including my own site).
Why not just delete the account?
I know a little bit about how this stuff works, and my assumption is that as long as the account is active Google will continue to back it up as a live account, but that as soon as the account is deleted it will archive all posts and lock them away perhaps to be able to offer them back to me one day if I decide to re-activate the account. I know they do this with email (a deactivated account which I reactivated had all the email restored). I think a better stragegy is to individually delete content I don't want and keep some posts and keep the account active. My guess is that stuff I actually deleted will eventually not be in any archive (their backup rotation period is probably pretty long but perhaps not infinite).
My Google Plus Farewell post
I have closed down this social media account as I do not intend to make any further posts here. Most content has been archived and removed (thanks Google!). Also big thanks to everyone who helped make G+ worth reading for the last 7 years (many more folks than the 200+ people who were kind enough to follow me back). I will keep a few older posts up which hopefully will give future visitors a little more confidence that I'm an actual human and not a bot.