I made six new friends today.
It’s weird, because I never met any of them. They’re all crappy Californian bands with names like Kick That Dog. Each invited me to hear their new single.
I’m a perpetually ashamed member of the largest Internet social networking website in the world, MySpace. Ashamed because I believe it’s a bad part of our society and a move towards some cold form of social disengagement; yet, since I’m a musician and need to explore all avenues of revenue, I’m a member.
As a society, we’ve got to be very afraid of things like this. Sure, the pedophiles-on-the-Internet thing is creepy, and we should all be on our guards against the Mark Foleys of the world, but there’s a more widespread problem of social networking websites replacing real social networking.
I first knew that MySpace was dangerous when I was over at a friend’s house playing some video games (a form of social disengagement that I don’t mind). His sister is in high school, and about twelve of her friends were over. One by one, they took turns leaving a perfectly fun and sexually tense social situation to-get this-check their MySpace comments. And they left comments for each other. While in the same room.
MySpace is so incredibly popular because it’s a drug, no different than pot or alcohol. It acts like something it isn’t, and replaces our need for human contact while getting read of social anxiety. There’s no set of eyes to look into, no scary breasts to avoid looking at. It’s easy, you’ve got time to think about what you’re going to say, you can talk to a ton of people at once, and you can make contacts that you’d never have a chance to make otherwise.
The problem is that when the MySpace kids are put into real social situations, they have no idea how to act. We’ve got an incoming generation of Internet-raised jerk offs and social misfits, ironically plagued by a website that’s supposed to make social networking easier and simpler.
You can’t have reality on a computer screen. My MySpace friends aren’t real friends; at absolute best, they’re other people who are willing to read a message I type up at 3:30 in the morning. Some of them are people I’ve talked to in real life; the ones that aren’t are not cemented in reality in my brain, nor should they consider me a real friend or contact until I meet them.
MySpace is a social crutch. I don’t think that the designers of the website would disagree that it’s not an end-all to real human contact; the problem is that people simply aren’t smart or alert enough to make that association every time, and as a result we’re slowly slipping into cultural senility.
My cure for the problem? Get the hell out of your house a few times a day. Take a shower. And for God’s sakes, if you’re at a party, don’t get on the computer to check your MySpace comments. Flirt until you get turned down, and then brag to your friends about it. Be a screwed up kid the normal way-you don’t need the Internet for that.