Signing Up with MySpace
I recently mentioned signing up with MySpace.com so I could learn what happens there and why the site is so popular. First, let me tell you about my previous experience with social networking.
In the late '90s I joined a Writers' Board on AOL, where authors of short stories and poems could post their creative efforts, and comment on the postings of others, who in return might comment on theirs. Although the board was never intended as a get acquainted service, many of the writers did get acquainted, and some of the relationships evolved into real-life romances.
Well, in those days all the corresponding was done with the written word — no pictures, no drawings, and certainly no videos. MySpace, on the other hand, encourages people to get acquainted using all of these things. You start by filling out a questionnaire that creates an online profile, which includes any mug shot you may choose to upload. You are then given a "space" where you can post more photos and/or writings, such as a personal blog.
Other users see these things and can then post comments on your photos and/or add something to your blog. Each such response is accompanied by a thumbnail of the responder's photo, which gives you a miniature view of the person's appearance.
The real frosting on the cake, however, is the access to all kinds of layout templates, which let users create some amazingly colorful and eye-dazzling pages. Some use animated graphics and/or a conveyor-belt slide show of their photos. Many pages look like they were created by special-effects designers at DreamWorks or Pixar Studios.
All of the above is completely free and there seems to be no limit to how many things can be put into a user's space. It's free, of course, because of an endless stream of ads that goes along the top of each page. Be aware that spending any time on MySpace nets a goodly collection of adware cookies. These can be subsequently removed by clicking on Start>Control Panel>Internet Options>Delete Cookies.
I assume everyone knows the site was designed with young people in mind, but a few mature users have signed up as well. However, the clickable list of years in which one graduated from high school only goes back to 1950.
Another feature is a Search field, into which you can type a person's real name or his or her user name. (Mine is pcdon.) This can be used to look for a specific person's space, or you can type in, say, Beverly and see the pages of all users with that name. Another option is "Keep my space private," which allows only user-invited persons to see it.
If you choose to just browse all the public pages, you may see some pretty wild stuff, including a few pictures posted by Playboy-wannabees. However, any image can be marked as inappropriate, in which case it might be removed — but I doubt this happens very often.
Who's Teaching Whom?
Historically, adults have taught children who grew up to teach still other children. Contemporary computer knowledge, however, often moves in the opposite direction. When Grandpa buys a PC he might ask a grandson to teach him how to use it. The teen will probably accommodate, if he's not too busy ogling pics of scantily-clad and provocatively-posed females on MySpace or watching strippers on DailyMotion.
It's not my intent to be an alarmist about the exploding social networking phenomenon, but rather to suggest that anyone wanting to know what's going on — and what's coming off — should consider checking out some of the groups. Most allow visitors to look around, but one needs to sign up to get the inside scoop.
If you feel uncomfortable joining an online group that caters to teens and twenty-somethings, you can pretend to be a hip young hottie when you post your personal profile — which is one of the chief dangers of using these sites; people are not always who they claim to be. You've undoubtedly heard some of the horror stories.
Rather than banning youngsters from these sites, I'd recommend checking them out and talking to your kid about being the one who sets a good example for others. Having controls on a home PC won't keep kids from these sites when their friends have free access.
In any case, if you decide to sign up disguised as a teen, be sure to use the worst imaginable spelling and grammar, like udderwise aint nobdy gonna beleive u. To its credit, MySpace does have a Safety Tips page, which offers some sensible advice.
I don't take a position on what consenting adults do in private, but I do worry about lonely people — of any age — who can be duped into dangerous situations by a smooth-talking conniver who is out to steal their identity, or worse. On the other hand, social networking can be a great way for a shy, introverted person to make new friends — if he or she uses common sense and keeps informed about the potential dangers. I have met some wonderful and amazing people online, whom I never would have met otherwise.
True Story about a VERY Embarrassing IM...
I was once giving a presentation for about 75 people at my hometown computer club, and was about to demonstrate how to initiate an IM. I'd logged on and saw the names of some friends on my Buddy List. I was about to double-click one and send her a greeting.
Well, imagine my surprise when Margie beat me to it. "Hi, Don," she'd typed, "how are you doing?"
This is great, I thought. Now I can demonstrate what it looks like when you're suddenly IMed by a buddy, as well as how you type a reply and send it.
"Great, Marge," I replied. "How are you this evening?"
"Well," she replied, "kind of bored. My husband's out of town and I was wondering if you'd be interested in stopping by for a glass of wine."
Well, you can imagine the raised eyebrows on my viewers — all of whom knew I was married — as I gasped and tried to think of a good answer.
The rest of this story can be seen here...
Surprise Invitation from a Married Woman...
© - Donald Ray Edrington - 2006 - All Rights Reserved
Contact Information on Don Can Be Found
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