Google announced a new change to Gmail this week, enabling people to send messages to Google+ users without knowing their email address. If you have a Gmail account and a Google+ account, you can send such messages to other Google+ users, and likewise, other Google+ users can send messages to you. If you let them.
Of course, the "invasion of privacy" cries were immediate, as were the complaints of Google forcing Google+ on people. And yes, you have to opt out of the functionality. But you can opt out, and Google is sending everybody messages about the change so they'll be aware.
I'm sure that's not a popular opinion, but it's reality. If you don't want to have Google+ forced on you, I'm sure Google's competitors will be happy to have you. They're going to keep integrating. They've not been shy about it, and they're not going to stop. "Google+ is Google," as the company has said more than once. You have to stop looking at it as this outside social network you don't want to use. That doesn't mean you have to use it as a social network, but Google's going to make it available to you one way or another. It's a feature of Google. Just like Gmail is a feature of Google. And YouTube is a feature of Google. It's just Google.
Opt out if you want. It's pretty easy. Go to Settings in Gmail, then look at the "Email via Google+ setting," and adjust accordingly. Make sure you hit the Save Changes button. That's pretty much it. Crisis averted. I haven't seen the actual emails Google is sending out as it rolls the feature out yet, but it's supposed to include a link right to the setting.
For the record, despite what some media reports would have us believe, I'm not seeing near the backlash over this as with the recent YouTube comments change. But really, the problems with that are deeper than simply being Google+-driven.
Image via Google