“MySpace is an online community that lets you meet your friends’ friends.” –MySpace.com
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you’ve heard of Myspace.com. It’s a social networking site where users can set up a personal profile that includes as much, or as little, personal information as they desire. MySpace has become more popular with teenagers, and safety is the primary concern.
Since its launch in 2003, MySpace has grown to over 60 million users. The social networking capabilities of MySpace seem endless. It’s a tool to keep in touch with friends, family, and classmates. As with any online community where you are constantly meeting new people, precautions must be taken. The user must be careful about what he or she puts in a profile. Not every user is out to get someone, but the website’s users must be cautious about how much they reveal. Too much personal information may leave someone vulnerable.
MySpace has been under careful watch by the media, law enforcement, parents and employers. In 2006 alone, MySpace has been mentioned in several cases involving pedophilia, stalking, and sexual assault. Of course, most people on MySpace are not pedophiles, rapists or serial killers.
I should know. I’ve been a member of MySpace since November of 2003.
I found MySpace.com through a Google-search of online communities. My first friends on the site were people I had never met. I thought it was entertaining at first – meeting new people from all over the world. Then one day, I found a “real life” friend on MySpace. He was an old college friend and co-worker. I slowly began finding more and more of my “real life” friends online. During this time, I stopped talking to the people whom I’ve never met in real life. Soon, I started telling people that they needed to join MySpace so I could talk to them more often! By the beginning of summer of 2005, nearly all my friends were members of MySpace.
My favorite feature of MySpace.com is the Blog feature. This became my tool during the summer of 2005 while I was working at a summer camp, away from all of my friends at home. The only contact I had was via MySpace. I would blog about my days and my friends would read them. Even my parents were visiting MySpace to read my blogs! It was the easiest option to update my friends and family on my life without sending intrusive bulk e-mails or hunting down a stamp for a letter.
At the end of the summer, my real addiction to MySpace began. I was logging on more than 15 times a day to check for messages, blog posts, bulletin posts, and comments. Sometimes, I would refresh my page over and over just to see if anyone had sent me anything in the past 3 seconds!
When I was with my friends, we would say, “I’ll send you a message” instead of “I’ll call you.” Anytime we took pictures, it was, “This is gonna be my new profile picture!” Whenever we experienced something out of the ordinary, we’d say, “I’m gonna blog about this tonight!” Whenever one of us had an argument or falling out, someone was dropped from someone else’s “Top 8.” At least I wasn’t alone in my addiction.
There’s always a serious side, though.
One of my “real life” friends began receiving message from a member that threatened her, her boyfriend, and his daughter. This person even branched out and tried to contact her MySpace friends. He or she obviously knew us in person because they would describe us at clubs or bars. It was creepy knowing that someone from an online community was following me and my friends around. We contacted MySpace about the user and they called this a “cyber-bullying” incident. My friend and her boyfriend even alerted the police about this person. They were more worried that the daughter was being mentioned in these nasty messages. Basically, no one helped us out in the end. The person stopped contacting us and deleted their profile from MySpace. That was my only negative experience with the website.
Now, I’m not so addicted to MySpace. I log on only twice a day now! I’d still rather message my friends than call them. I change my profile picture after every party. I blog about the crazy happenings in my life. This summer, I’m returning back to camp and people have already told me that they can’t wait to read my blogs!
Most importantly, of my 120+ friends on MySpace, I know every single one of them in person. I don’t add a person unless I know them or a close friend knows them; and I make it a point to meet them in person. I also look at their profiles to make sure that I want this person to be my friend. One deciding factor when a stranger sends me a friend request: if you have 300 friends and 299 of them are scantily clad, big-breasted girlsÃ¢Â?Â¦then I won’t add you.