Community Columns

On MySpace, I run into the best and worst of society

Am I the only one out there who feels a bit disconnected from modern society? There are so many new technologies now that it would be exhausting to try to keep up. Nope, my goal is to not be utterly clueless. I feel that I am barely succeeding.

In an attempt to relate better to the ever-changing world that my children are entering, I recently ventured into a territory that is extremely familiar to many but previously unknown to me: MySpace.

For those of you even more clueless than I am, MySpace is a Web site that is highly popular among teens and young adults. It offers users an opportunity to set up their own Web pages, tell a little about themselves and to connect with friends. They can talk to each other, play music and post photos. It is also a huge resource for meeting new people, which can be either really great or really scary, depending on who the new people are.

For example, soon after setting up my Web page, I received friend requests -- which is when MySpace contacts you to inform you that someone wants to be added to your exclusive list of friends -- from a few strange men. One was quite direct -- he wanted to date. This was baffling to me, since he claimed to live in Africa and my profile clearly states that I am married with children. What was he thinking?

Never mind, I don't want to know.

Another seeker is apparently a musician who must be looking for fans, but he looked like a ZZ Top reject and I strongly disliked his music. Sorry, bud. Look harder.

Like the weird musician, there have also been friend requests from people who are obviously using MySpace as a business tool to drum up sales for their products. In these instances, it seems misleading for the e-mail to declare that so-and-so wants to be my friend; clearly, they just want some of my money.

Another aspect of MySpace that might concern some parents is the prevalence of foul language and raunchy themes. There are probably a lot of predators out there looking for young victims. But much of the offense comes simply from people whose moral standards are not particularly high. Though MySpace bans nudity, there are many photos that are an inch short of pornography.

Despite the cautions that a wise participant must use, there are many advantages to this technological meeting place. I've gotten to know a few of my friends better and have had a blast connecting with some of the teens I associate with. As a parent, Sunday school teacher and friend, I feel that I can be more effective if I don't feel like I just crawled out of the Stone Age. There are a lot of awesome kids out there, and I look forward to continuing to explore their world.

Brogdon lives in Denair. Write her at columns@modbee.com.

  Comments