I think I have to get a My Space page whether I want to or not. I have avoided it for this long, out of a sense of it being unnecessary in my life; I already have a social network, right? People I have known for years: friends, family, coworkers, even former lovers; we keep in touch, even as our lives change and  we move around or marry or reproduce and we grow. We all have cells and email and can read and write so we communicate and visit. But apparently I was wrong. I realize I am generally behind on things; I am often too busy reading books, papers or mags to catch up online. Then when I do get online, I have a bulging Inbox to filter through. [Oh, and work to do…] I have noticed lately, though, that there are fewer personal messages coming through than usual. I used to ignore business, news and other emails to communicate with my friends and family first. They seem to be disappearing, though, into deep outer myspace…

Some are disappearing without a word [gee, thanks] though I have received the obligatory “join me at myspace” emails from others. A few friends have told me I “have to get a Myspace” which I laughed off. But now I realize that was a warning… Translation: “If you don’t get a myspace you may never hear from me again.”  We will only see each other at formal functions and our communication is being reduced to occasional cell calls and the Annual Christmas Letter, or more likely a quickly signed card. OK, I am caught up in my daily life, too. Kids take precedence and I have a household to run and I am trying to create a writing career. I feel like I am wasting precious time doing this blog, and I obviously don’t get on here enough, but now I need to maintain another page in order to network socially, with the friends that I already have.

I am rather ignorant of the whole social network site phenomena, so I have much to learn. It seems to me though, that it would be really cool if I was still in school or dating or in a band, and I needed/wanted/had to meet new people. Its not that I don’t want new friends, I just think I’d rather meet them in person. And what is the deal with showing off how many “friends” you have, for all the world to count? Its like the fourth circle of high school hell… you have more friends than I do…my lifespace sux… One of my friends’ daughters bragged about her number, which included some celebrities that obviously don’t give a dang about herspace. Is that even healthy, for teens to believe these larger than life people are really their “friends”?!

The first time I heard about Myspace was after a particularly heinous murder in this region. A teenager met a thirtysomething man through Myspace and they consequently began a sexual relationship. She was 17 and had been living in a dorm for a week at one of the state’s universities when she disappeared. Turned out she had died during sex and he had taken her body to another county, set it on fire and returned to his life. Until he got caught with pictures of her in hisspace. It was all very disturbing, and obviously not the fault of the Myspace people, but that’s still the association I have in my mind. Since then, I have heard too many disturbing reports and cases of pedophilia, murder, bullying, stalking, etc linked to “social networking” sites. Though I cannot entirely blame the sites, I can question the causal link.

Have we lost our sense of reality because of this virtual world? We call strangers “friends” and put private information on a public forum. Kids and teens are obviously vulnerable because they do not remember when this was not considered normal. Anyone who has ever been a teen in a school knows that some people will do almost anything to be accepted, make friends or explore their burgeoning adulthood. It’s supposed to be harder than this, though. All they have to do is hit a few buttons and they can create theirspace, their alter-persona, their virtual world. And let anyone in.

I think I have privacy issues, really, so I try not to put too much online than I deem unnecessary. But, that seems to be an old-fashioned notion. Some folks share everything and some probably go too far. But does everyone, or anyone, think ahead anymore? If you put it online it stays there. For a long time. Whether you want it to or not. There have been some high profile cases of regret, amongst beauty queens and PTA moms for example, but many members of the younger generation don’t seem to have a sense of discrepancy either. Really, you may not want to confess to a crime or drug habit on yourspace. Unless you’re really that proud of it. I have a feeling most of the homemade porn stars working out of their dormrooms and parents’ houses won’t always be too proud. Then again, maybe they will…It’s their self-created 15 minutes of virtual fame right?

So, now, what if I give in to the technical peer pressure and sign on? What if I like it? I will have yet another responsibility to maintain. I have to check myspace and maintain myspace and I’ll start neglecting my inbox and my blog and my kids.  It’s another thing to read and another reason not to write. But I miss my friends. So wish me luck.

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