Making Friends on MySpace

The biggest craze for the under teens and people in their early twenties is MySpace. This is a social networking site that is meant for meeting people. Well, meeting people in the sense that you find out their names and read their intimate secrets in a blog post. You may never meet them in person, but they are still your friends. But, really, MySpace does have a few cool things going for it. It pretty much allows you to get out there in a very real way: you can post your novel in serial form or release your band’s demo online, garnering a following without having to sign a record deal. But, as with all things of this nature, there are also some pitfalls.

The MySpace phenomenon is part of a move toward social networking. No longer are Internet groups confined to professionals and people looking for support. Social networking is about getting friends. Many people on MySpace are obsessed with driving up their “friend” count. Which is unfortunate, because many of these “friends” aren’t even people they instant message on any sort of a basis. But it is a status thing. And it can be addictive. Most social networking sites can offer a variety of features from email accounts to message boards to instant messaging to setting up dates. And, you can meet people through your friends. Sign up and find a friend, and then you can see who that person’s friend is. You can then contact the friend and you have a means of introduction.

However, MySpace also offers a forum for music releases and other ways of getting yourself “noticed.” Many aspiring bands offer music videos on MySpace, and digital graphic artists create shorts for others to watch. You can tell stories and connect on new levels, all for free. While these things are possible on other social networking sites, none of these sites are used for such purposes to the same extent that MySpace is.

There are some problems with MySpace, however. Part of the issue involves the potential for abuse by sexual predators. Originally, the age limit was 18. However, as MySpace moved away from its L.A. indie music roots, and toward the social aspects, the user age dropped to 16. For a while it even dropped to 14. However, age requirements matter little. A user can claim whatever age he or she wants. And therein lies the problem. Many teens post photos of themselves, and a sexual predator can pose as someone close in age (but a little older and cooler) and get involved. Additionally, many teens put personal information out there that can be used to locate them.

Also, it is notable that the same company that owns Fox, Rupert Murdoch’s News Agency Corp., also owns MySpace now. And anything that goes up there becomes property of the company. So be careful. That great novel you are posting may not be yours after all.

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