Wednesday, January 25, 2006


If you were to walk into the computer room during the lunch period and the seats were filled, in nine cases out of ten every occupant would be looking at each other's assortment of friend pictures, 'txtspk' blog entries, and vibrant colours. They are looking at Fox News Corp's MySpace, which so happens to be the most popular blogging network out there.

Then you'll begin asking me, why do I not have one?

The same can be answered for other blogging networks such as Xanga and LiveJournal. Most of the time these pages are not full of anything serious, but rather full of randomness. On one sidebar you'll find a little journal written in 'txtspk'; on another you'll see a photo slide show*; on the main division you have a list of interests, age, sex, and forms of contact. Yes, the journal, which usually doesn't feature anything constructive anyway, is secluded in an obscure corner of the page. Plus which, the service often will limit how much you can customise the look of your page, and those that have access to expanded controls often use them recklessly, changing the cursor or playing downloaded music. Because this practice is overdone and treated as a standard for sites like this, nothing constructive is yielded.

On top of the random assortment, MySpace has unsurprisingly become the venue for predators. A few years ago I read about a girl from a Catholic high school that advertised herself as 'sexyme4u2see' and posted nude pictures of herself on her personal page — and she ended up dead in a culvert. And not too long ago I heard that Xanga was the venue for meetings between David Ludwig and Kara Beth Borden of Lititz, Pennsylvania; the former killed the latter's parents after they severely restricted their relationship, but not before they had exchanged nude pictures of themselves via mobile phones. In the latter case Borden had risen her age on her profile to 17, ostensibly to evade COPPA regulations (which is why members on Super Cheats have to be at least 13).

And last but not least are unmoderated chat rooms. It is often here that many people agree to meet up in real life — and this way many unsuspecting minors die. They're not IRC rooms, so there's no reliable means of moderation or surveillance apart from anyone in the crowd that was smart enough to eavesdrop.

Even with those aside, it's the fact that too many people use them. This means — you guessed it — cliques. People will set up friend networks on MySpace, Hi5, and Xanga despite the intricacy of the network incurred by adding friends on your profile. And when there exists a high concentration of people using MySpace on a regular basis in a school, not only is the site marked out by Internet filters, but people will hog the computer room to form a chain of users sitting in their chairs, leaning over to advise another on the maintenance of their page. The ones who have to do actual schoolwork — or post stuff like this on Blogger like I do — are left out to wring their skin of tears.

* I have come to hate the practice of using buddy icons as photos in these galleries. On my Hi5 account I happen to have a person in my network who presents herself with an icon containing psychadelic flowers and pink text reading 'men prefer blondes but they love brunettes'. Oftentimes people prefer not to give actual pictures of themselves, but rather follow the practice of putting random uploaded images, which is explicitly against the site's terms of service.


Jess said...

I'm pretty sure MySpace is MSN's creation. o.O

Anyway, I use Freewebs and HTML to make blog sites. I find you can do way more things that don't down slow down a computer with dial-up.

James O'Malley said...

MySpace is actually owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp (or one of its subsidaries).

It's like you're surrendering your mindless banter to evil!