Like the great explorers before me, tonight, I seized the opportunity for adventure and traveled back some ..number of years...to relive the days when strangers in the same areas could hit on each other...when you could invite a thousand people to an event without ticking off little boxes for an hour...when the landscape was more than bands promoting their music to other bands. Tonight, I journeyed back to MySpace..and this is my story.
I put the name into my browser like it was some old friends left behind when too much drama surrounded their lives. Would visiting this piece of my past cause untold chaos in my present day life? Of course, this was an illogical idea, but a fellow named Ashley Williams once thought playing a reel to reel tape was harmless enough...and so I proceeded with caution. My first encounter comes in a page with a giant image of Lil Wayne...enough to make anyone turn and run in terror. I stood my ground, even while the on screen options twitched and writhed with every mouse over as I scanned for the entrance. I clicked "Sign In" and quickly realized I had no idea what long abandoned email address was tied to the accound, and far less inkling as to what pop culture reference was used for a password. An MTV animation title? Perhaps an Ally McBeal joke? After several failed attempts (but thankfully no lock out), I took a quick detour over to google to make sure I'm actually still ON MySpace...and there it was. Like the scene from Titanic where the submersible rolls up on the rusting hull of the massive ship at the bottom of the ocean...friends now turned assholes, current friends with hair from a bygone era, and a back drop of briefcases piled atop each other, surely picked by the system after perusing my likes and deciding...I love briefcases.
I cracked the code allowing me entrance to my account and was then faced with a second obstacle...new terms of service. Having been an avid South Park watcher, I now read these things carefully as to not accidentally promise my immortal soul to Colin Firth. ...He looks like a soul collector. I scan the first bits, which basically state that I consent to agree to use MySpace consensually. One section reads...
The license you grant to Myspace is non-exclusive (meaning you are free to license your Content to anyone else in addition to Myspace), fully-paid and royalty-free (meaning that Myspace is not required to pay you or anyone else deriving rights from you for the use by Myspace of the Content that you post), sublicensable (so that Myspace is able to use its affiliates, subcontractors and other partners such as Internet content delivery networks and wireless carriers to provide the Myspace Services and, subject to good faith efforts to honor your Profile Settings, to third party search engines), and worldwide (because the Internet and the Myspace Services are global in reach). You also hereby grant to Myspace, and agree to grant to Myspace, the unconditional, perpetual, irrevocable, sublicensable, fully-paid and royalty free right to use, share and exploit your name, persona, and likeness, and your Profile information and information about your activities on the Myspace Services (including, without limitation, your activities in connection with our sponsors and advertisers), without any obligation or remuneration to you. However, from time to time we may offer you choices regarding how information about you is shared and we will make good faith efforts to honor your elections.
OK..nothing about my soul. Satisfied,. I click "I Agree" and continue.
The first screen shouts "This is the connect button. It's on just about everything. Click it when you see things you like." I look around the room, convinced this button has now been placed on everything I own. I should have read the Terms of Service closer. Damn you, Justin Timberlake. After a cursory 3 hour check of my belongings, I find no connect buttons. Cleaver deception. Make me paranoid...weaken my resolve. I jog in place for 15 minutes to fill my body with adrenalin for the journey ahead.
My first discovery comes in the slider bar below the welcoming message and an image of damned people reaching for a savior above. THIS WEBSITE MOVES SIDEWAYS. The future is sometimes frightening, but we must always travel forward. One box pushes the concept "Discover", were in the system hand picks the ripest of people, articles, music and videos worthy of consumption. Another allows you to take the music you "found" and build a mix, at once admitting music can now be plucked off of any street corner like a medium grade prostitute that could pass for one of your mom's friends, and killing the art of the "Mixed Tape". The romance in my dies a little. As a final thwack to your already reeling cranium, the text adds "You can even add photos." Bam. Mindfuck.
To prove its inclusiveness, MySpace shows me all the individuals it thinks I would be friends with to assure I begin amassing my army post haste. Vampires, Rick James/Prince Mash-Up Cosplayers and even Pixar beckon me. (I have just learned how to properly spell beckon. My knowledge is already growing.)
New friends have already been chosen for me. Wajid will roll out the world's technological wonders for me.
While Elsie shows me the many options for conveying my endless inner emotions through my MySpace profile picture.
I continued this nearly existential side scroll for what seemed to be minutes and soon realized, the system allows you to scroll on into infinity. YOU ARE ALREADY CONNECTED TO EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE. Here are some things I learned from MySpace...
Seagull Sharks exist. Seaarks. Shargulls. That works.
Kittens and Horses can be friends here without fear of reprisal from their separate tribes.
A video called "Jessica Toe Play" presents itself. I expect there to be juggling involved. A video pops up centered on a woman's feet not doing much of anything with serious people on a TV discussing Revolutionary Road in the background audio. I wonder if this is what they mean by "Meta". Now as I scroll, the foot video presents itself, thinking I love it and wanting to follow me home. I consider tomorrows mail will contain invitations to foot fetish sites. I consider burning my computer.
I am connected to 41 thousand people, 16 of which I have met IRL (that means In Real Life...I talk to people.) I have no messages. I have no notifications. I shudder at the thought of what I have awakened. Tonight, there will be no sleep.