I had a Google+ panic attack this morning.

I was driving along in the damp Houston morning heat, rocking out to some sweet tunes (which still won’t scrobble from Google Music on my G2x. Hello, Last.fm. Can you please fix scrobbling?), when I came to a red light right before entering the freeway. I hate this light because there is a guy who always tries to wash my windshield and it makes me feel awkward. I know. First world problems. But stay with me.

This morning wasn’t any different. Windshield guy was armed and ready to assault my glass -- which was, actually, pretty bug-riddled from my Austin road trip -- and I cringed in anticipation as he approached my vehicle. Before long, my vision was clouded with suds.

Then, something really weird happened. I found myself appreciating that he was washing my windshield without my consent any actual expectation of money in return. This guy was drenched in sweat and it was already almost 100 degrees outside. I reached into my wallet, pulled out a five, and handed it to the guy. I smiled, I told him to stay cool, and I meant it. (This is, like, totally unheard of behavior for me. I don’t roll my window down for anything except a cop. Houston gets pretty dangerous.)

Here’s where the panic started: as I drove away, feeling very proud of myself, it struck me that I’ve been in this “sharing mood” ever since I started getting really active with the Google+ community. And that’s legitimately nuts, that a website -- a social network -- could be re-framing my outlook on life, making me want to connect with everyone around me. What if Google is changing how I behave offline, too?

Once the Starbucks jitters wore off and I had a while to think more clearly, I realized I was just a little high on the thrill of starting a new job, and my windshield really did need to be cleaned, and I don’t like accepting services without compensating for them, even if they’re unwelcome at first. But the connection I’d made at first is going to bug me all day if I don’t act on it (albeit, a bit impulsively). I’ve said before that I think Google+ can change the world, but I’m not actually a raving lunatic, okay? This isn’t about Google, really. It’s about us.

I keep saying that Google isn’t trying to make the world a better place with Google+. But I want to make the world a better place, and I think we should start really thinking about ways to do that with this new tool. It’s obvious already that things spread like wildfire on this network.

So...in that spirit, please comment with an idea for how we can try to do good through Google+.

I’ll go first.

I don’t ever donate to charity because I’m never sure how my money reaches the person or people I want to help, or if it even does. If charities use the future business profiles here to really explain their own merit and detail precisely where and how their donations are being used, I’ll be a lot more inclined to give. I’m talking about a charity profile that would post rich media to demonstrate the reach of its cash by posting videos, photos, and personal stories. Are there ways Google could make this easier? Could there be “charity” profiles in addition to business and personal profiles? Is that a stupid idea? This is just the beginning of a brainstorm. I really look forward to seeing what else you guys come up with.
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