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February 24, 2006

Comments

Dee Love

I'm actually pretty understanding of MySpace these days.

With many shopping malls banning loitering teens, and skate rinks, arcades, and other various places being a dying breed, there are few places where teens and preteens can freely congregate outside of school. MySpace until very very recently (and arguably still) is a independant world that these kids can fully express themselves without reprisal.

It's a weirder generation to grow up in these days, and kids are much more openly experimental with "adult ideas" mostly through these kinds of underregulated sites, but this is the generational progression our society's set up.

It seems as though the more restrictions the more uninhibited and experimental kids get on the internet, where they can be/say/do whatever they want, and at the same time connect with people that will validate their existance, healthily or otherwise.

Admittedly I don't really think it *is* a matter of parental supervision, in fact the teenagers I know who are most active on myspace are the ones that are trying to escape their imposed family structure. Of course you have the ones that have the absentee families going apeshit on MySpace too as you point out.

But what does almost everyone ultimately want from age 12-24 anyway? Attention, respect, and acceptance. And in a society that is becoming completely more and more closed off socially, these kids are getting it and creating it wherever they can.

Which is actually, in my opinon, more fascinating. It's not a matter really of why are these kids doing it, but a matter of what they're doing, what they're creating, and how it'll mutate and metastasize in the future.

Gena

All excellent points. I do see how MySpace is sort of a meeting place, considering teens aren't permitted to hang out anywhere else anymore. More than anything else it's the sense that they're all exaggerating qualities that in the adult world would be seen as undesirable in a friend or romantic partner (promiscuity, vapidness, materialism) and making it seem like something positive. They seem to have no guidance whatsoever on what it really means to be a decent, self-respecting person in the world.

I know that with time and life experience most of them will mature and understand what qualities are really valuable. It's just...I don't know, disappointing. We've come so far, and yet the next generation reminds us of how much further there's still to go.

Dee Love

Those exaggerated qualities are interesting to me, because MySpace is developing in the closest thing to a vacuum, but it's a vacuum informed by pop culture, where being a vapid whore is portrayed as desirable.

It's like to steal from william gibson, watching a researcher with a finger on fast forward running permutations of bacardi ads.

Funnier still, I know that most of the slutty promiscuous behavior is a show, having numerous contact with the same high school girls and boys that post half naked photos of themselves on myspace and talk about how much they love Jack and making out with everyone in sight, are the same girls that are still virgins, go to church, and get good grades. Sure a lot of them aren't, but a vast majority I'd wager are.

It's like MySpace is some virtual Las Vegas where they can act out all of these adult impulses society's feeding into their heads on a minute by minute basis, but without "tainting" themselves...

The internet is really becoming a rather bizarre playground of experimentation. Not that it isn't terrifying, but certainly very socially fascinating.

I gave up on constructive society a long time ago, so for me, it's all just a show now before JC comes back for more than deep fried twinkies. :)

petomai

Hmmm...while I agree with you on just about every point you make in regards to the sadder aspects of MySpace, I think that you're leaving out a few key things. First, and least relevant, is that these admittedly embarassing children are still learning to be autonomous, self-defined individuals. They are forging their identities, and they are going to look like idiots. They look like idiots in real life, too. No-- they look human, in the special, hypercharged manner that only a teenager can. The fat ones will wear clothes that hide their fatness, and the blemished will shrink from the light. They will artlessly tilt heads and hands, hiding the sickness that ails them. They do it in person, and they will do it in pictures. And as for all-around whorishness, yeah, granted, totally f-ing gross, but sexual posturing above and beyond actual experience happens just as frequently in the school cafeteria as it does on MySpace. Basically, my point here is that there is very little disconnect between the digital personae and the physical of our lamentably uncultured teens.
Anyhow, the meat of the issue:
I am 24 years old and I use MySpace almost every day. And-- get ready-- it has made my life better. I am able to maintain casual acquaintances and friendships that otherwise would have fizzled and faded away. In these temporally-challenged times, it's rather difficult to have the forty-five minute 'so what have you been up to?' conversation with everybody that you dig. If you can drop them a quick five-line message every couple of weeks and keep things cool with your friends on the opposite coast, great! It is a network of places to crash, people to visit, friends of friends of friends to link up with and work/create/party with when you're in their geographical area. I have met artists and musicians and young intellectuals whom I would never have met/heard/seen otherwise. These people have enriched my experience on earth, straight up.
So yeah. I agree that the monumental self-obsession implicit in contemporary American youth (and adult) culture is repellent and ill-omened and wrong. And no place is this better exemplified than MySpace (with the possible exception of MTV). BUT-- it is also undeniable that MySpace is a wonderful communication technology (although maybe 'model' is a better word here). Flush with voyeuristic fetishism though it may be, the rampant idiocies on MySpace are easy enough to ignore. To condemn MySpace on these grounds is somewhat similar to condemning the medium of film because of the existence of, say, rape porn. Or to condemn the guitar because of shit like Incubus and the turntable because of shit like Incubus (sorry I can't think of a more clever horrid band here, as I am proud of my hard-won taste ;) ) Some people are gauche, filthy, tasteless, and young. Ignore them.

I guess my main point is this-- the more people we talk to, the better. The more people we work with and the more personalities with whom we engage, the better work we will do. Socioeconomics and digital divides aside, models like MySpace are the first glimpse of a new sort of social networking. And we're best off, I think, to focus on this newborn child rather than ogling and criticizing the afterbirth smeared on the hospital floor.

Sorry this screed is so disorganized...I hope it made at least a little bit of sense.

Cheers,
p

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