Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Why Aren't I in Your Top 8?

In previous classes and blog posts many people have mentioned how they feel Facebook creates unnecessary drama between friends. Back in 2004 and 2005 when Myspace was popular among the kids in my middle school, (that's right middle school, we're going way back now) there was so much drama that a bystander could confuse the school with an episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey.

At the time, Myspace was unlike anything else out there. Many kids were still Internet n00bs, and AIM was used more frequently than even Internet Explorer. Myspace generated a huge buzz, and most people created a profile--sometimes several. I never had a Myspace profile, but I did create a few for fictional characters, including a page for a comic book character that myself and a friend created. It was more of a novelty than anything else, and once an awesome profile skin was installed, a few friends were added, and a song was chosen that would be the end of it.

Unlike my usage, however, a majority of the 7th and 8th graders in my school had real Myspace profiles--obligatory Myspace mirror profile picture included. Everyone had access to each others content because privacy was something people only considered when in the bathroom. Internet privacy wasn't a hot-button issue yet. It didn't take long for the fights to break out, especially between girls who would argue over comments, pictures, and most of all, THE TOP 8.

Suddenly, Myspace made people consider the value of their friends by ranking them in order. In an unprecedented turn of events, many kids began thinking like philosophers and communication theorists, considering the utility and social exchange theory. Worst of all, the Top 8 shared trends with the stock market--it was constantly fluctuating. It became, "what have you done for me lately?"
The arguing that arose was different than small fights that people see on Facebook today. Myspace was much more personal. Everything was customizable. Every facet of the Myspace profile was entirely reflective of you. Since people were young, insensitive, and often insulting, people were easily hurt. Tension rose and my school, as well as any others, became concerned with Internet safety and the use of social networking sites.

The Myspace I am referencing is of course very different than the Myspace that exists today. In fact, the site's banner no longer includes the word "space." I was stunned when I went on to the homepage recently to check it out. It is no longer a social network or a place for friends, but instead is home to "social entrainment." More shocking still is that it gives people the opportunity to "connect with Facebook." Looking back at what Myspace was and currently is shows how much the social network landscape has changed since its introduction. At first, many people tried importing many of the settings they were accustomed to on Myspace over to Facebook. For example, there were Facebook apps that would let people add a Top 8 or a song to their profile, but it is rare for someone to see that anymore. Ultimately, Facebook's cleaner layout and lack of fake accounts won over Myspace's customizable layout and freedom.

1 comment:

  1. Very insightful post. I do think MySpace allowed profiles themselves to become an artform.