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Friends Like These

The virtual scene of MySpace is a reality enhancer for some and a waste of time for others

By David King

bout me: I gave up life as a pirate on the South China Sea to pillage villages in Indochina proper. The hyphen is the mark of the Beast: use it at your own discretion,· reads the MySpace description of a friend of mine. Next to the description is a drawing of Elvis dressed as some sort of holy man, and next to that is the phrase ·hail Satan.· Someone not familiar with my friend·s personality might think him a deranged acid freak, not a grad student who is simultaneously frustrated and amused by the power of the Internet social-networking phenomenon.

It·s likely that someone you know is logged on to MySpace right now. Someone I know certainly is. If you are reading this in an office, it is likely that more than one of your coworkers has the ·online now· light flashing next to his picture. I know mine do. I know, because I·m there right now. In fact, I·ve been there for a few weeks, hanging out in the digital popularity contest, trying to get a grip on the growing scene. My eyes are bloodshot, my vision is blurry, and my fingers are tingly and numb, but I need to find out if this is the ultra-advanced, synthetic scene replacement I have been promised it may be. I·ve been logging on briefly between phone calls, writing. . . . OK, yeah·real work. And I·ve seen most of you logged on, too.

I·m currently listening to ·Not Alone· by the Traveling Wilburys. My current mood is: Optimistic.

I·m told there are 76,734,163 people in my network. I, however, only have 41 friends, most of whom are trying to market their bands to me, or are authors (or, I should say, authors· PR people). The rest, well. . . . The rest are mostly a bit off-kilter, balancing their disdain for the site and its whorey, tell-all vibe with their need for recognition, attention and acknowledgement. They, like me, are MySpace latecomers.

Your MySpace friends probably aren·t like mine. A lot of your friends are probably here for the ass. Heck, you might be, too.

I·m currently listening to ·This Modern Love· by Bloc Party. My current mood is: Excited.

Your friends might be those people with the half-naked glamour shots they Photoshop into perfection before applying names like Booty Girl or Pimp Stud or Metal Chick or XXVEGANDUDEXX. They pose with low-cut dresses or tank tops, topless, holding their chests, or flexing their muscles, blowing kisses at the screen or flashing some tough-guy symbol. They dye their hair unnatural colors and lay on the mascara, whether male or female. They might be the ones dropping you lines about one-night hook-ups with no strings attached. Those are usually the ones with the most friends. They also like to leave comments on pages of attractive members, saying things like ·Damn you look fine. Let·s hook it up.·

I·m currently listening to ·Bang a Gong· by T.Rex. My current mood is: Jealous.

Then there are the information pukers, the personal-data pushers. They are the ones who just don·t know when enough personal information is enough. They fling data about themselves at their page until something sticks. They are kind enough to inform you how their day is going, how old they are, their sexual preferences, body temperatures, favorite bands, movies, books. They keep you up to date on which tracks they are currently listening to, what their current mood is, how they plan to take over the world. They publicly post things they wouldn·t dream of shouting in a crowded section of the mall, despite the fact that more people are probably listening in the world of MySpace.

These friends post endless strings of blogs and bulletins on their pages, harassing all their friends with their drunken ramblings or their moments of clarity. They are the ones making sure to announce to the world their disdain for their job, their drug usage, their sexual escapades, and their hatred of their boss. They want attention, and they will take it any way they can get it. They post personal schedules most would keep in a black book under lock and key. Thursday: colonoscopy; Friday: give two-week notice; Saturday: full-body wax.

I·m currently listening to ·Swarm Reigns (Down)· by Isis. My current mood is: Uncomfortable, or perhaps . . . Indifferent.

Always looking for validation, these ·sharing· MySpace friends are also likely to be way into online quizzes, tests and questionnaires. They will always be willing to share their results with you. Of course, MySpace is not a one-way street, and it is amazing what these friends will help you learn about yourself. In case you were wondering, I·m not letting you get away without sharing some of my deep discoveries. MySpace tells me that I belong in Cocytus, the 9th level of Dante·s hell, and according to the ·How Evil Are You?· test, I am 88 percent evil. On a positive note, according to the ·Which Transformer Are You?· test, I am Megatron.

I am currently listening to ·Suffer in Truth· by Meshuggah. My current mood is: Mischievous.

As virtual, fake and misleading as MySpace may be, its reach does not end when you sign off. MySpace is a living, breathing scene with a mind of its own outside the computer. For example: on the night of April 29, a new friend of mine who recently moved into the area was goaded into attending a party at the apartment of a friend of another friend·s girlfriend. Yes, I know what you·re thinking: not a good situation. However, he had already virtually met a number of the party attendees on MySpace and knew their virtual ins and outs. So-and-so only likes positive thinkers, Whosywhatsit thinks he·s a rock star, Clammy Hands is a devout Satanist. My new friend even took enough notice to remark at how different some of the attendees looked from their MySpace pictures. God bless Photoshop.

Although at first shy, this friend of mine ended the night (after a couple drinks) chatty as all get-out. The next morning, the call came. He is no longer allowed at So-and-so·s house because he was talking trash. Unsure of whom he had offended or how, he decided MySpace would give him the answers. In the heat of the moment, his MySpace identity was born: I·m Not Allowed at Your House.

I·m currently listening to ·Last Night· by the Traveling Wilburys. My current mood is: Amused.

It didn·t end there. Some party attendees contacted him on MySpace to apologize but said there was nothing they could do. Later, he was told the person who banned him had seen his new profile and unbanned him. They then banned him for his offensive MySpace profile name. Yes, after all my time researching this scene, I·ve discovered that MySpace allows bored 20-to-30-somethings the chance to pretend they are back in high school, passing notes behind the teacher·s back.

I·m currently listening to ·Friends Are Evil· by Jesu. My current mood is: Disappointed.

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