Thursday, December 14, 2006

MySpace as Inevitable...

I research and write about that social networking collective intelligence Web 2.0 beast of the internet known as MySpace all the time. But an unforseen event happened last week... The Nerfherder Gal finally created an account for me!

Despite the best tantrum I could muster, she created the MySpace page in my name and with my information, complete with a pink "Hello Kitty" background just for kicks and giggles. Needless to say, I have felt quite emasculated in all the days since. But I've also made a few observations worth sharing...

Observation #1 - MySpace is the ultimate popularity contest, in the high school, Mean Girls-type of sense. Each user has a "friends" count, which becomes an almost immediate obsession. Overzealousness and complete irrationality create a mentality of "I only have 54 friends, I've got to invite a few more!". And no matter how many friends you get, you always feel like a failure in life when you see that some loser you went to high school with has an ungodly number like 340 friends (not exaggerating). Who are these people?! Getting more "friends" becomes a mission; a purpose for your sorry existence - amplified a thousand times in MySpace even to a known social recluse such as myself. I would love to hear a psychologist's explanation of this phenomenon.

Observation #2 - The main reason people keep returning to MySpace is to stalk other people online. In nearly two weeks, absolutely none of my "friends" have updated their pages at all. No photos, videos, blog entries - nothing. So why do I keep revisitting each of their pages multiple times a day like a junkie looking for a fix? The answer is, of course, to snoop on their "friends" lists. "Jimmy's one of my closest friends, so who are all these people in his "friends" list that he's never even mentioned? It's like he's got a whole other life I don't know about!". It also lets you stalk, not only your friends, but your friends' friends. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that people's most frequent visitors are actually ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends checking up on them without them knowing they're checking up on them. (My brain is now officially ready to explode from this high school girl lingo). MySpace is so popular because it so easily allows people to be anonymous stalkers. Scary.

Observation #3 - It's actually quite ordinary and overrated. The technology behind MySpace is nothing to write home about, and in fact, most pages use nothing more than simple HTML. As a result, it's the ultimate "Build your own website for dummies" website, and the quality of most of its pages demonstrate that point quite effectively. MySpace lets its users make a basic web page, post photos, leave comments and email, instant message each other, maintain a blog, etc. But all of this can already be done in cyberspace in thousands of other ways, and usually better ways. It's the new AOL - simple and wildly popular, yet moronic. No self-respecting techie would be impressed with almost anything about MySpace.

That being said, please excuse me while I see if I have any new friends...


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