On Thursday at lunch Paul asked us, almost whispering as if we were under surveillance, if any of us had Myspace accounts. Of course none of us did, which didn’t surprise him but he said it was worth asking. He’s used to communicating with people using it, including his friends from his old school and his family. It’s a very popular service among people like him, including my father, where they can share all sorts of things about their lives and keep up with the details of whatever the people they care about are doing. Users post pictures of themselves, tell people what they’re doing at any moment, and sometimes post pictures of themselves doing something at any moment. It’s just a constant stream of personal information that I don’t understand anyone wanting to go through constantly. But it remains popular, even though I’ve seen articles complaining about its interface and bloated features, because nobody’s created a competitor.
Obviously I use the internet quite a bit, but usually in anonymity. I find it a lot easier to converse through typing, since you can take time to properly prepare what you’re trying to say. Since most of the communication is through typed words, I’m not being judged on my tone of voice, stumbles in my speech, or my physical appearance. I’m just being judged for what I’m saying. As opposed to Myspace, which turns the internet into an extension of your offline life. I prefer keeping my internet life and person life separate, since my internet self is perceived better than my real life self and I’d like to keep it that way.
I do plenty of socialization online with complete strangers. I post on message boards, I have a group I play games with, and sometimes use chat rooms. I don’t know where exactly these people live, or what they look like, and, except for my gaming group that uses voice chat, what they talk like. I just know the words they type, and that’s all I can judge them on. Kat uses a website where she catalogues and ranks her music, but she does it under a pseudonym because she doesn’t need the world to know that she thinks Highway 61 Revisited is a five star album when Blonde on Blonde is only worth three stars or that OMD’s Maid of Orleans is the 53rd best song of the 1980s. I only know about it because we saw her using the account on her laptop, and she was reluctant to share it at first but then explained her methodology at length. Mostly she just communicates with strangers on that website that share her interests, and don’t care if she flaps her hands when she’s excited. The internet is a great tool that connects you to the entire world, from people posting tons of information on Wikipedia to video sharing sites to meeting people who you otherwise would never meet. It would be a shame to see it turned into a digital reflection of the real world.