I couldn't comment on my own videos. I had dozens, if not hundreds, of unanswered questions and dangling conversations from my viewers that begged for a response, and you took away my right and privilege to communicate if I didn't sign up for Google+. But then you nullified those conversations without warning—suddenly, Google+ or not, it was physically impossible to respond to any comments posted before a certain date. Was this part of the plan all along, or were you so eager to push your unloved Facebook competitor on us that streamlining the transition didn't matter?
I resented the theft of my voice. I ran out of ways to be upset at you, Google. First the obnoxious popups about connecting my accounts, then the subterfuge that led me to unwittingly set up a Google+ account, then the horrendously organized options pages that brought me this close to inadvertently deleting my entire YouTube channel, then the denial of my basic ability to talk to my fans without playing your little game, then the denial of my basic ability to talk to my fans who'd been waiting for months or merely minutes for a response. No amount of resistance, criticism, or outright complaining could satisfy my rage. I had been grumpy before about change for the sake of change; this time your agenda was clear, and this time, I was angry. This is not the creature of habit talking who'd prefer to leave well enough alone; this is the person who despises being bullied and taken for a fool by someone he trusts.
Today, I grudgingly but willingly signed up for your Google+. Today, you deprived me of one of the greatest joys I have from making videos: checking my e-mail the day after posting a long-awaited video to discover a deluge of subscriber and comment notifications, and taking my time to read through and appreciate each and every one. Today, after posting a video that's been in the works for two months, my inbox was empty.
I don't receive notification e-mails if I'm not signed up for Google+, you see, despite there being e-mail notification options in YouTube whether I've connected Google+ or not. You ever put on a performance only to have the audience stare at you instead of clap when you're finished? That's what this felt like. And navigating to the comments section of the video to see if anybody had said anything was like listening to the audience members talk amongst themselves on their way out of the theater. I was no longer involved in my own videos. I had become a cyber stork who left newborn videos on my subscribers' doorsteps before disappearing from their lives. So I swallowed my righteous pride and admitted defeat. Making videos isn't worth the effort without the human connection, but the human connection, I thought, might be more important than refusing to compromise my principles in the face of a corporation who isn't even listening.
I had fun populating my Google+ page with ridiculous information, claiming to be a Super Fighting Robot who works at Dr. Light's Lab and who went to school for special weapons use at the Challenge stages of Mega Man 10. Under better circumstances, Google could have persuaded me to at least create an account for the sake of better publicity—after all, I signed up for Twitter, which I neither like nor fully understand, so that people who prefer Twitter can get automatic updates about my blogging and YouTube activity that way. I'm not unwilling to try new things, but their value needs to be made clear to me if they're not forced upon me. As it stands, I feel dirty for joining Google+ because I neither wanted to nor was truly forced to. It's a little like being blackmailed—do I give in to the villain's demands to maintain the status quo, or do I preserve my sense of morality at the expense of something potentially greater?
I started to get anxious when, after two hours of setting up Google+, I still wasn't receiving e-mail notifications—as though I'd sacrificed my principles for nothing. That situation righted itself after enough time had passed, but I'm still finding brand-new comments I cannot respond to, and if I never have to wade through all those settings menus again, it'll be too soon. To me, that's the big tip-off that Google+ was never intended to be so integrated with YouTube: multiple settings menus that all seem to say the same thing and have a delay of several hours before the changes in one place take effect at the other place.
So I'm on Google+ now. It's not the end of the world. Maybe I'll end up using it or even liking it. One thing's for certain, though: Unless Google gets their act together and either streamlines or apologizes for this mess, it won't take much for a man who's already abandoned his principles to abandon the company that pushed him over the edge.