Monday, January 16, 2012

Confessions Of A Hangout Junkie

I'm not a psychologist so can someone more qualified in human behavior please explain to me the hypnotic nature of Google Plus Hangouts. They are truly addictive.

Yesterday morning I had a few minutes before I was supposed to leave the house for breakfast and church.  I decided to clean up a couple of emails that had come in overnight and to quickly scan all my the social network feeds. On Google Plus I noticed my friend Bruce was in a hangout and I thought I would just pop in for a moment to say hello.

Hangouts, for those of you who have not experienced them, are self-directed video chat sessions. You can have up to ten people in the session at any one time. Everyone is lined up in a row of thumbnail size videos across your computer screen. The person speaking is automatically displayed to everyone in a large window so you always feel like you are speaking directly with that person.

I found it easy and natural to sit and chat with Bruce for quite a while. Nothing heavy, just the usual breakfast counter type of conversation. After a short while, another good friend Robert popped in. The topic shifted to a more serious one around some business concepts we have discussed several times before. It's hard to put into words the comfortable feeling I had sitting and chatting with a couple of guys. It was almost as if we were at the same table in a coffee house. Only Bruce is in Boston and Robert somewhere outside of Providence.

As the conversation continued, Laurie who lives outside of Houston, popped in. Despite being in a bathrobe, with pillow hair and no makeup, she was warmly greeted by us, her friends, and she took the conversation in a whole other direction. She shared her issue with us and we quickly threw several ideas and suggestions at her, alternately bouncing other problems and possible solutions off one another.

A couple of other people wandered in and out of the session and in the last few moments it was just Laurie and me. We each discovered so many new things about each other. For instance, she didn't know I was a former CIO and I had no idea she was in the recruiting game. We already respected and admired one another, having crossed paths on Google Plus before. But our conversation this Sunday morning pushed our relationship to a higher level. Several of us have since connected on LinkedIn.

Signing off some two and one-half hours after the start of this hangout it struck me. Of course I posted to Google Plus to share my observation with the handful of people who had been in this hangout. But I wanted to describe the interaction to all of you, my readers, to see if you can help me determine exactly what it is about this technology that draws you in, keep you coming back and makes it so easy to interact with other people?

Part of me wants to believe there is some magic in the technology which makes it so natural to meet and discuss with other people. Being able to look into someone's eyes while listening to them has been possible with videoconferencing for some time. It is the novelty of being able to do it on any desktop, tablet or even smart phones? Is it perhaps the people and not the platform that makes it work?

Whatever the answer, I know I am not alone in this addiction. I can find people in hangouts virtually any time of the day or night. I sense there are many more hours of hangout in my future.

So I don't know what the answer is. Maybe we could hangout together and discuss it sometime?

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC


  1. Good morning +Joseph Puglisi, well its been 24 hours since we hung out yesterday morning and had that conversation over coffee you speak about in this article and only 6 hours since we hung out again last night with a totally different group of friends as we finished off the day much like we started in a Google+ hangout.

    What is the addictive nature of hanging out in newest and fastest growing social network platform in the world. It may be just that, it is the newest however, one can do here in this Google+ space what you can not do any place else. This is where I meet you and so many other very interesting people from around the world. It's where real friendships are built and idea's are shared, it's where help can be found or collaboration on an idea is started on almost anything one can think of. It's were you can hangout with friend over coffee, a meal or even a cocktail. You can interact right here on Google+ just as you can in real life. It's where Google is bringing in all of it's features one can share in a handout as you can with Google documents for example.

    It's the hangout feature of Google+ that makes this platform unique. But don't forget you can still share by posting content in your stream like other social networks with out the same limitations. Like when you post something it can be edited with out deleting and starting again. You can add links to other web sites you want to give people direct access to with one click. You can share photos and video. You can embed YouTube videos to play right in your stream. There is so much one can do here that without experiencing it you will never understand the power it has.

    It's only been 6 months since Google+ was launched. Is it an addiction? I'm not convinced yet. Do I spend a lot of time here? Yes I do, and for all of the reasons I touched on above plus more.

    What are you doing now or what did you do before Google+? Watch TV, hanging out with friends at the local pub or restaurant, sleeping on the couch? At least here one can engage in interesting conversation or just stay in the background and listen. Either way you will learn more and walk away meeting interesting people you would never otherwise have meet.

    This Google+ platform is still new with an estimated 70 million people engaging today with a predicted 400 million people expected by the end of 2012.

    If your not engaged yet, try it and make your own decision. Connect with +Joseph Puglisi or me (+Bruce Garber) where we can hangout and talk about it or anything else.

    I don't consider myself an expert but I will do my best to help you or answer any question you may have. If I can't answer your question I bet I know someone that can.

    Give Google+ a try you'll be glad you did.

    I look forward to meeting you in a hangout soon!

  2. I love +Joseph Puglisi 's articles-- they're so easy to read and relate to. I think the allure is along the deeper lines of human connection, like Joe said. We have disconnected on such a large level, to the point that we're now happy waving to neighbors from the car as we pass, as opposed to actually connecting after work, in the front yard, as we all used to do. But, are we really happy with JUST that? I don't think any of this was ever intentional, but we have gone into a Cocooning Effect (Faith Popcorn, Futurist, Author and Marketing Exec.) that has made us completely self-sufficient within our cocoons-- in other words, our homes. Our lives revolve within cars, cubicles and concrete walls. I believe the people of the world are ready for, and going to experience, a major Empathy Shift. And I think this is coming soon. We want to connect, again. We are craving community. We want to feel relevant, whether that is found within information, security or relationships. The thing is, we still love our cocoons! This feature allows us to have the security and comfort of our homes, as well as the ability to feel connected, valued, and empathetic again, within these relationships. This feature is going to change the world and I'm thrilled to be a part of the experience!