Journal entry: September 18, 2007 (age 38) – MySpace
This guy, “Tom,” on MySpace is the most popular man in America. He’s the corporate “friend” who appears on every new MySpace member’s list of online buddies. The popular Web site’s purpose is to foster connections between people in the alienating cold of the Internet. With this in mind, my first act as a MySpace user was to click on Tom’s smiling face and hit Delete. Take that, you smiling twentysomething with all your hair!
That was a year-and-a-half ago. Since then, I have not spent a whole lot of time on MySpace, despite the fact that the media say the site is increasingly attracting people in my older, less hip demographic. Those same media reports speak of people who spend hours and even days “hanging out” on MySpace. For the life of me, I cannot figure out how or why someone would do this. After I filled out a basic questionnaire about myself and sought out a few old friends, I was pretty much done exploring. How many times can you change the color of the font on your page?
Don’t get me wrong – I understand the concept of an online community. Back in the go-go ’90s, I spent time in IM sessions and AOL chat rooms. But for me, the novelty of that scene wore off many years ago. I am less intrigued by the newer, stranger variants of online proxies. For instance, I don’t think I will ever have a Second Life avatar wandering around in cyberspace, and if I do, it will spend most of its time designing a Third Life avatar for myself, and a Ninth Life avatar for my cat, Shilo.
The thing that makes MySpace worthwhile is hearing from old friends who find me through a mutual friend’s list of friends. (I am aware of the overuse of the word “friends” in the preceding sentence, and if it troubles anyone, I suggest they take it up with their friend, Tom.) It has been great to hear from people who performed comedy with me in Washington, DC, for example. But for every honest-to-goodness person from my past, I get at least twenty “Friend Requests” from spammers hawking the usual spectrum of Viagra and Nigerian bank transfers.
My most recent Friend Request came from a bubbly and buxom coed named Brandi. Brandi likes walks on the beach, kickin’ it to Korn, and striking up meaningful conversations with middle-aged married men. When I clicked on her face and hit that wonderful Delete key, I felt a pleasant catharsis. Girls like Brandi wouldn’t talk to me when I was 20, and I don’t crave their attention now. But, of course, “Brandi” is not a young coed. She is actually a low-life hacker or corporate shill, most likely of the male or robotic persuasion. Telling her/him/it that they can’t be my friend is an annoying part of my online life, but one that also serves to vent some frustration.
Tom can be Brandi’s friend, and I’m sure they will have beautiful MyBabies together.