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There, I said it.
Having been raised in California during the creation of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society by a mother who boycotted grapes, burned her bra and canvassed for McGovern might have something to do with it, though I’ve had plenty of years to examine my beliefs and to own them. Being a Democrat doesn’t mean I want to tax the wealthy at 50%, decimate the military, or take away your gun and sell it to an illegal alien who’ll pay for it with his welfare check , shoot you in the foot to rob you of your tax money while I’m eating bonbons at my best friend’s gay wedding. But I don’t believe compassion is a character flaw.
I love politics. As a real estate agent I’ve heard to keep them off your Facebook page— ya know, just so you don’t “alienate business”. Okay, I get that, I just don’t ascribe to it. When you run your business on the like-finds-like model of tribal attraction and relationship building, dialogue is critical. Criticism and cynicism are not. Though some of you are sure to disagree… I like to engage rather than provoke, try to keep the mix thoughtful, informative, humorous without the memes and not too snarky. I am not always successful, though admittedly biased. I welcome differences of opinion so long as they’re not rude or cruel, because I feel we need to practice civility by bringing our ideas forward and being held accountable for them. Disagreement is good if there is a willingness to listen and if not, you can usher personal attacks on friends to the door or sponge the haters off of the thread. As a businesswoman in a field populated by Republicans, I find my less vociferous left-leaning friends whisper to me at the water cooler, “I love reading your posts. I wish I could do that but, you know…” and I do… kind of. Perhaps I should keep that “separation of church and state” idea in mind when it comes to social media but I prefer that First Amendment thingy. Don’t you think honesty is a valuable trait in a real estate consultant? Wouldn’t you rather have someone who is relentlessly honest with you, even if it means telling you the house you love is over-priced and sitting on a toxic waste site? Negotiation is not for sissies and you can tell a lot by how one handles their Facebook wall. Having the courage to own what I believe in comes from the same part of me that will always take a stand on behalf of my clients and makes me good at what I do.
33.3% of all Americans identify themselves as Democrats, though it doesn’t follow that the term “Liberal” should be liberally applied to all of us any more than “Right-wing” fits every one of my GOP affiliated friends. I believe in fiscal and personal responsibility, in global warming, social safety nets, civil liberties, equal pay, and government regulation (because if the housing crisis taught us anything, it’s that human nature doesn’t always lean to its better side). I don’t believe that being there for one another is a character flaw.
The best hope for this country to right itself again is by admitting that neither side has all the answers. That just because I see the world differently, doesn’t make you wrong and visa versa. As long as we defending our absolutes, rather than championing our possibilities we will never be able to find solutions to the problems that keep us from being a truly Great Society. We must stop yelling at one another; regurgitating talk radio, cable news and partisan websites as if the ideas we’ve co-opted are our own because preaching platitudes is never the path to original thought. We must have the courage to look beyond the propaganda and seek to discover what we really think and why, and share it in an effort to understand rather than be right. Or as my proudly liberal mother used to say “A problem is never solved in a shouting match.”
In a matter of hours, hopefully not days, we will know the outcome of the 2012 election, and if the polls are correct they’ll be a dead heat of anguish and exhilaration. The spinners will spin and the snipers will snipe and both sides will keen it is the end of the world, and wouldn’t it be nice if it were? If we let go of the adversity and reclaimed the civility and manners that our parents taught us, perhaps we could teach Congress a thing or two. *snorts her coffee*

That’s the phrase my math-obsessed four-year-old used to say when playing the “I love you more” game. Of course, he was referencing the mathematical concept, googol. Excited by the infinite possibilities in the number 1+100 zeros, August’s love knew no bounds.
Lately I have been receiving more invitations for the new social platform, Google+, than I did invitations to 5 year-old’s birthday parties in my googol love days. So far I haven’t accepted any of them, I’m waiting for the party with the pony. Before I dive into another social ocean or launch into another learning curve, I want to know what I’m getting in to. If you’re feelin’ the love as well, you may want to check out the article I found explaining Google+ and how it differs (or not) from Facebook and Twitter. The segregation part may be a good thing, though I don’t really use the same tool on FB. When you express yourself as freely as I am wont to do, you know that not everybody needs to read every thought that pops into your head, no matter how brilliantly witty. A bit of discretion, please.
See you in the inner circle.

1. Circles
Google+ is based on a “circle” analogy, and this is where Google’s philosophy on sharing differs from Facebook. As stated in the interactive demo, “Circles makes it easy to put your friends from Saturday night in one circle, your parents in another, and your boss in a circle by himself — just like real life.” [LW: See “list” in Facebook]
Unlike Facebook, where a user broadcasts updates to a large audience, Google+ allows a user to break their “friends” into subgroups. These groups can be family, friends, co-workers, etc. This allows for very targeted conversations.

2. Stream
The Google+ Stream is very similar to the standard timeline you’ve come to expect. However, your Circles are displayed, enabling a user to select and view a Stream for that particular circle. This is actually a very nice feature. [LW: you can do this in Facebook, and I use it a lot, but it’s cumbersome]
You can also update your status here and you are not bound by the 140-character limit of Twitter. Some users may love this — personally, I’ve grown to appreciate that number. Adding photos, videos and location is super easy, but there are some missing elements, including an accessible RSS feed. It will be interesting to see Google expand this module.

3. Hangouts
Hangouts is a video chat module that allows for group videoconferencing. As you may know, Facebook recently partnered with Skype to bring video chat to Facebook, and TechCunch wrote an in-depth article, “Facebook Video Chat vs. Google Hangouts: It’s No Contest,” which covers these features in detail.
Essentially, Facebook supports one-on-one video conversations and Hangouts allows group chats. In fact, up to 10 people are supported. I tested this module and quickly discovered that performance and quality are greatly enhanced with a high-speed Internet connection. This is an intriguing feature that could have a ton of potential for remote team meetings. {LW: would clients like this if you send them a list of homes to consider – feels more like a face to face discussion even when it isn’t?]

4. Sparks
Sparks is another useful feature. Just enter a topic, click “search,” and articles from across the Web regarding that topic are streamed into the Sparks module. Topics are automatically saved and can be accessed at any time. You can be specific in creating Sparks. I was surprised at the different results displayed for “real estate marketing” and other industry-related terms.

5. Privacy
As with all social networking services, configuring your privacy settings in Google+ is imperative. To access your privacy settings, click the “gear” icon at the top right, select “settings,” followed by “profile” and “privacy.” Here you can customize everything from notifications to visibility.
Although Google is focused on the consumer experience, they announced via YouTube that they are developing plans for a business experience on Google+ that will be released later this year.

It is certainly too early to predict if consumers will adapt to Google+. Is it a Facebook and Twitter “killer”? I doubt it.