Saturday, April 22, 2006

MySpace Saves Lives?

Riverton, Kansas on April 20, 2006--

In what is becoming a frighteningly common event, the popular MySpace website has led to the arrests of several suspects believed to be involved in the intricate plotting of a Columbine-esque school shooting. According to the Yahoo! Tech News article, five students' gruesome plans were averted when one of the members of the group, which intended to pay homage to Hitler's birthday and the anniversary of Columbine on the now infamous 20th of April, posted a brief message of his intentions on his MySpace profile to a friend at the Kansas school.

The article also mentions the negative press that MySpace has garnered--due to its pedophilia friendly set-up. As MySpace enacts further security measures and, bafflingly, continues to be used as a "private" posting grounds for would-be criminals, it seems the popular website could become something of a benevolent force on the web.

I simply do not understand how people could believe that what they write on the internet would not get back to them in person--but, in this case and in others, thankfully it did!

My personal opinion of MySpace is that is has an awful design and allows, dare I say, a bit too many options for the user. Some profiles are laden with flashing graphics, annoying songs, and too little actual text. There is no cohesion of the profiles. It is as if MySpace merely rents out webspace to millions of people, who then create a self-deferential website that contains, at times, all of the information none of us really want to know. Additionally, and related to the recent controversies, MySpace allows itself a certain anonymity, due to the fact that anyone can join and fabricate an identity. Some users set up profiles just to advance their musical band and send annoying messages to local people telling them to attend events.

Facebook, while not perfect, seems to address MySpace's problems. It has a clear and crisp design. One registers through his or her school, and thus the creation of promotional profiles is not a problem. In addition, Facebook serves almost a practical purpose in addition to leisurely egotism. One can contact friends far away or, in last minute desperation to determine the meaning of a class assignment, one can contact a classmate with a cell phone number. While sometimes derisevly labeled as a stalker's paradise, Facebook is in reality much more intimate and "safe" than MySpace.

Still, it's nice to hear that MySpace is securing and legitimizing itself in the popular online realm of social networks.