MySpace: A New Addiction

26 09 2006

On Friday, I finally “caved” and signed up for a MySpace page. You can view my profile here.

I fit pretty well into the MySpace demographic, although I split my time between the MySpace and geek worlds. Usually I live in the MySpace world for socializing/downtime and live in the geek world to get things done (work, learning, planning anything, etc.).

No huge surprises (it’s mostly obvious), but some broad observations so far have become clearer:

  • Thus far, most of my communication has been from friends I might have just spoken to within the past week. Thus, my experience has been that MySpace has been less about connecting with past friends and more about being another form of communication (see later item).
  • You can’t run and you can’t hide. What’s always bothered me slightly about MySpace is that is means the death of personal space. Even if you don’t post pictures or personal comments that personally reference you, someone else is probably doing so. At this point, I think you’re just better off embracing it – at least you get to craft your profile closer as you see fit.
  • Social norms translate oddly into the MySpace world. It’s easier to reach out to new friends online, but at least for me, that’s not the motivation. I will likely (at least for the time being) only reach out to people I know in the real world or at least have some other connection, so I would still stop those people on the street and have a conversation with them. So, oddly, the social protocol and rules of possible past or current conflicts still have some application.
  • It feels like a waste of time. I’ve always known this and it’s honestly the primary reason why I’m the 100 millionth-plus user. Again, maybe this is just a personal preference. I’ve never really loved IM/chat for this reason (although when it’s business-related, it has its uses, but even then chats can go off on tangents).
  • More, more, more! Every action on MySpace seems to generate an e-mail: friend requests, comments, messages, picture comments and probably more. It seems MySpace is single-handily contributing to the clutter problem in e-mail and mindshare in general.
  • MySpace as a communication tool . One thing that stood out is the annoyance factor of the additional communication medium that seems to add no value (another of my complaints with IM) – the MySpace messaging function. It serves some purpose for someone that doesn’t have my e-mail, IM handle or phone number, but I don’t necessarily hide these pieces particularly carefully.
  • Social rules. There are new issues like “MySpace stalkers”, the ongoing child molestation problems and such. With IM, text messaging, MySpacing, cell phones, etc., what’s the social etiquette? There’s odd rules and uses for each medium in the younger generation. What a weird digital world!

It appears to me that MySpace is the real deal, especially for young people establishing their identity in the world.

So for now, it seems that MySpace will always have a lock on this market. If you’ve got a lot of extra time to spare (as the young generation does – that time is just siphoned off of other recreational activities), this doesn’t so much matter.

However, as the MySpace generation grows up, it’s for the above reasons that I think it would beneficial if we saw an evolution in social networking. My dream is something that doesn’t duplicate communication method, doesn’t seem to waste my time and isn’t much extra work, but achieves the broader goals of MySpace, Facebook and such – connecting you with others quickly and efficiently.

These may be terribly obvious observations, but I think they have some application when bridging the MySpace crowd and geek crowd.

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