The Space for Addiction
MySpace is the digital crack of the 21st century. As it’s popularity rises, so does its number of addicts. Huddling against the warm neon glows of their computers they update their profiles. Sending messages back and forth with online friends is their fix. Hours upon hours are spent adding friends, writing bulletins, sending messages, making comments and uploading photos. Is this a disturbing trend or a healthy new way for people to interact?
MySpace has captured a generation with its melding of technologies and ease of use. MySpace has over 65 million monthly views. It is one of the most popular web sites on the net. There are over a 100 million MySpace users around the world.
Joining the online social networking world has never been so easy. You can have a MySpace page up in minutes. You don’t have need to be a web wiz, or programming expert. Simply fill out information about yourself and your interests and you will be set up with a default profile. It’s quick and easy to upload your pictures. Transferring photos from a digital camera or mobile phone from your computer to MySpace takes mere seconds. Once a default picture has been set you can begin adding friends.
You will find past friends and old acquaintances on MySpace. Many browse users’ profiles according to their own set of preferences, from location to age, sex and relationship status. You can personalise your MySpace profile with a variety of layouts. Your friends can leave comments on your profile. As its popularity grows MySpace comments are quickly replacing texts and phone calls.
It’s a strange world, MySpace. Promotion is the game, and many are quick to jump on board. Artists now get their big break on MySpace. Gym Class Heroes MySpace success with “Cupid’s Chokehold,” led to a record deal, radio spins and a top ten hit. They even wrote a song about MySpace on their subsequent album titled “New Friend Request.” It details lead singers Travis’ exploits after falling in love with a fellow MySpace user.
A lot of celebrities use MySpace. Actor and comedienne Jamie Kennedy runs his own MySpace profile. It has generated million’s of views and he now has over 200000 friends. Fans now have greater access to their pop culture heroes.
It’s a competitive space. Users rush to increase their friend account. People want to be on each others top friends list. A non-appearance can quickly lead to rifts. Beautiful models replace long time friends. It’s a dog eat dog world of self-aggrandising. Who is watching and how they are perceived quickly takes precedence over a friend’s rejection.
What was once personal has now become very public. Personal blogs reign supreme and people post bulletins (viewable by all of their friends) answering surveys with fifty personal questions. Who knew so many people were interested in whether you put butter on your bread before peanut butter? Many meet MySpace buddies in real life referring to each other with their online pseudonyms.
There’s a lot to do on MySpace, and people are finding plenty of time to do it. MySpace addiction is on the rise. There are websites devoted to helping you with your MySpace cravings. Levels of addiction are tested by answering questions such as “if you need to tell your friend something, would you rather leave them a comment than call them?” and “You know more people on MySpace than you do in real life.” Other symptoms include checking MySpace more than a dozens of times a day, and posting multiple bulletins in an hour
A video on YouTube entitled “MySpace Junkie” has received over 2.7 million views. In the video a MySpace “junkie” desperately wants to use his friend’s computer to log on to MySpace. He hasn’t checked the site in days and needs to accept friends’ requests and invites. The MySpace fiend offers to put his friend in his top eight as compensation for access. He wants to know the bulletin of the day and the featured MySpace music. Many have left comments on this video relating their own addiction. This comedic observation perhaps reveals a greater truth.
Another YouTube video, PeeDeeFlos “Kings of MySpace” has received over 1.5 million views. In the parody “Pdflow” and “trafik” rap about the benefits of MySpace and how they use it to get dates. They say, “It’s addicting like how a crack head feels.” The theme of drug use and MySpace has been linked many times; people are having a hard time curtailing their use.
Even computer use experts have likened the use of internet to drug addiction. According to James Katz, the director of the Center for Mobile Computing at Rutgers University, “such communication has vital meaning to users, even though most of the data is essentially unimportant.” Some experts say using this new technology has become ritualistic, giving people a sense of belonging in an increasingly disconnected community. It’s the digital version of lighting up a cigarette
Addicts carry laptops with them everywhere they go, just so they can log onto MySpace. If someone doesn’t reply to a friend request they get upset. Why is this addiction reaching such levels? Some theorise that the interaction can give a feeling of validation and desirability. The world’s vanity may be the key to MySpace’s success. It also explains why so many people are getting hooked.
Kel Spencer, a rising hip-hop artist who has worked with everyone from Will Smith to MC Lyte, is a confessed MySpace addict. He is featured on DJ Jazzy Jeff’s new album on a track called “The Definition.” In the track he rhymes, “taste my diction, from Spence, as intense as my MySpace addiction.”
DJ Jazzy Jeff is another MySpace user who has likened MySpace to crack. Kel Spencer agrees, “He’s got a point.” The reason he finds it so addictive? “It’s the interaction without having to interact.” Kel even thinks about MySpace while he’s not using it. Pondering if someone has replied to a comment. Kel spends up to an hour a day on MySpace and posts five or six bulletins a day. His bulletins range from promotion, to personal stories and weekly contemplations.
Natalia Madrid has taken her addiction to another level. She is on MySpace for two hours in the morning and three hours at night. She says she spends her time “talking to my friends, reading private messages, goofing around and promotions.” Natalia says she has had many people get pissed at her because of her top eight. She does like it when she appears in other’s top friends, “It feels good to see me in my friends’ space.” She also thinks about MySpace when she is not using it, “Yeah, certain people… I often times wonder… if I have a new MySpace message, especially if I’m waiting on a private message back.”
Wendy Macdonald is a reformed MySpace addict. She explains: “I got creeped out by how addicting it can be. I mean it is about pimping thyself and who doesn’t like to big themselves up?”
She got involved in MySpace forums and groups, adding many friends, regularly updating and checking her profile. Then she came to the realisation, “At the end, it was a giant waste of my time.” Her heavy use resulted in a change of heart, “It got redundant. Then it just seemed so pointless. Then I clicked cancel account.”
At the end of the day, however long you spend on MySpace, the question remains, was it time well spent? For most of the MySpace addicts out there, the answer is probably yes.
My Voyage into MySpace
I have a love/hate relationship with MySpace. It can be a wonderful tool as well as an extremely annoying distraction. Is it Internet landfill or digital delight?
I’ve found long lost friends scattered all across the world on MySpace. Catching up with these friends that have been lost in the shuffle of life has been a wonderful experience.
I’ve also been confronted by endless spam and friend requests from enough untalented bands to fill the MCG.
There seems to be an endless supply of fake people on MySpace. It’s a vacuum for the self interested, self important, self righteous, fake friend growing masses. Emos, models, and fake lesbians rule the landscape. Traversing the ugly terrain can be a gruesome exercise.
It does however offer real benefits. It is a great way to keep in touch with real friends. It’s easy to keep abreast with friends that you are not in constant communication with. Simply, visit their profile. It is also a great way to network. It provides an excellent way to increase your contacts within your industry.
MySpace can be an eyesore. Some people just shouldn’t be let out on the Internet. There are profiles littered with enough digital waste to make a hundred graphic designers cringe. Oodles of rubbish from rotating photographs to multiple videos are added to profiles. It can take minutes to load.
I’ve also met some great people on MySpace who share the same interests as myself. Discovered lots of great music too.
I’ll never be an addict, but unfortunately I can’t quite click delete profile.
MySpace I love you, I also hate you.