Yes, dear readers, ’tis true. I have joined the MySpace generation, after months of excoriating it as a graphic trainwreck and web navigation disaster. I have a modest, graphically simple (thank you) MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/wheatdogg. Why? Because, like nature, I abhor a vacuum.
Some months ago, while writing about Brittany McComb, the Nevada valedictorian whose overly Christian message alarmed school officials, I tried to contact her. McComb’s only presence on the internet was her MySpace page, and you cannot contact a MySpacer without having a MySpace account yourself. She never replied to my questions, but there I was, stuck with a MySpace page with nothing on it. Rather than request the sitemasters to delete it, I decided to use it as a way to direct people to this, my real blog.
In short order, I joined a couple of groups, including that of the high school where I teach. Before long, students got wind of it. Most were amazed, or at least amused, but I overheard one say to a friend that I was still using the default MySpace layout. Youch! My wounded web developer pride forced me to explore more tasteful (read, less busy and confusing) MySpace layouts. The examples I have seen (some used by my students, in fact) are worse than the default, with backgrounds that hurt your eyes, color schemes that make it hard to read the text, and layouts that spill off the screen. In other words, they suck!
I settled on a minimalist design that eschews all the graphical nightmares of so-called professional MySpace layouts for simple text links in a three-column format. It’s not my design, BTW, just one I adapted.
Generally speaking, parents and teachers distrust MySpace, so I can imagine why my students were so surprised that I was using it. MySpace has had a lot of bad press, some of it deserved, because the site has done such a poor job of protecting its younger users from “internet predators.” Its reputation as a dating/hook-up site does not exactly add to appeal among the older generation, who would rather not admit that their teens might possibly have (or want to have) a love life.
But MySpace is not all about sex, drugs and rock and roll. Three of my own kids have MySpace pages, as do many of my students and former students. Most are connecting with friends old and new, not looking for one-night stands or dangerous liaisons with creeps. It’s a social networking site, after all. For the most part, the younger users are pretty smart about their use of MySpace. They listen to the news, too, and can cut through the alarmist reactions to isolated abductions and molesting incidents to a more cautious use of a new medium.
So, there I am, in MySpace-land. Who woulda thunk?