How MySpace took over my space

It is the website which has revolutionised and supposedly democratised the internet but our Glasgow clubs editor reveals how it has taken over her life.

I was 19 when I got my first real job and my first mobile phone. The job introduced me to the World Wide Web and my beloved email, where there is always post on a Sunday and the postman comes with hourly treats. The internet opened up so many possibilities: online shopping, booking holidays and other things that were only imaginable in terrible films like The Net.

However, the whole phenomenon of chatting to people online, even internet dating, totally passed me by (apart from a brief flirtation with MSN messenger a few years ago when, due to the stress and strain of working too many hours, it was suggested to me by a friend that we keep each other company through the tough times). The internet had its place. I was a well rounded internet user, living my life ‘off line’, preferring the company of real crazies to their online dopplegangers. Life as far as the internet was concerned was pretty much tickety-boo.

Then, about six months ago, over one drink, life on and off line was to change forever. To protect the identity of my ‘Myspace pusher’, we shall, for the purposes of the story, refer to him as person X. Over the course of said evening with person X, he dropped Myspace into the conversation several times. When he referred to his Myspace - a new found utopia where information and music sat side by side with pictures, sounds and the ability to be a downright nosey git to boot - he became animated and hyper. It was, in no uncertain terms, a music lover’s and a snooper’s paradise. I simply had to investigate.

Had somebody warned me then about what I was letting myself in for, as I am warning you now, things might have turned out differently. As a bone fide out-and-out nose-poker into other people’s business and a lover of all things music, I had found my paradise. Myspace had managed to take my habits and loves and create the perfect outlet, a seductive package which allowed me to spend hours spying on anyone and everyone from the guy I recognised from the till in Tesco to my favourite band and my favourite band’s favourite bands. I was hooked on the domino effect of opening one person’s profile only to discover somebody else’s profile. I wanted to explore more. Days passed, weeks even. The dishes piled up, laundry sat in the basket as I found myself constantly online, viewing profiles and listening to endless snippets of tracks. Then I did what so many swore they would never do: I created my own profile.

I refer to this as the point of no return. I opted for the most basic of layouts, to begin with: a wee bit about me, a fuzzy picture and a list of music I liked. No fancy fonts or colours. Taking the first steps, I asked a few ‘like-minded’ people and bands to ‘be my friend’. Bingo! People accepted my friend requests. I too had an inbox bursting at the seams.

I started to up my game and personalise my page. I took some pictures purposely for my profile and added splashes of colour. After a few weeks, I felt so confident I took that grinning multi-millionaire Tom (Myspace's creator) off my list of friends.

I began to spread the news. I ended sentences and casual chats with, ‘Ok, I’ll Myspace you’. Instant messenger was added, allowing me to swap cake recipes with a lady in London, make-up tips with a drag queen in Texas and to discuss the influence of Pat Butcher on contemporary British jewellery with a performance artist in Manchester. The computer was never off, humming seductively in the corner as I awaited the ‘ping’ that told me I had a message.

I suppose you don’t really notice how far an obsession has gone until it’s too late. Sitting in your dressing gown through the night with nothing but the ping and flicker to keep you company, staring into an empty inbox isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Something had to give.

With the help and support of a handful of my ‘off line’ friends, as opposed to my 300 online pals, I slowly managed to wean myself off this addictive pursuit.

I am now limiting myself to an hour a day, two on weekends. As the days pass, the lure of the keyboard diminishes, the light of the flickering screen grows fainter and the urge to talk nonsense with strangers is reduced. I wouldn’t say I’m completely free though. I love and hate my Myspace in equal measure. As for the sticky-beaked nosiness and love of music, both are thriving off-line.

*In the time it took to write this article, I checked my Myspace once, posted one comment and made one new Myspace pal.

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