End Insight

Louisville Magazine

Louisville Magazine cover, September 2007

END INSIGHT — ME GENERATING

By Robyn Davis Sekula

Louisville Magazine | September 2007

About three months ago I got an e-mail from my friend Meredith, who lives in Iowa, goading me to join MySpace. Now, for the record, I had heard of this MySpace place. It was for perverts and loose women, as I understood it, dames with low standards. I ignored her. I wasn’t one of those — not anymore. My days of that sort of activity were long past. I’m a mom of three now. I don’t have time for that, or the energy. Sin sounds exhausting.

But Meredith’s persuasive. She pestered me again, and I just simply can’t say no to my best friend. So I decided to go check it out for myself. I punched in www.myspace.com and soon it was staring at me, blinking hypnotically, inviting me to create a log-on. Within minutes I was creating a profile. It was thrilling to dabble in this netherworld of cyber identities, swimming with the millions of teenagers chatting and messaging back and forth in that curious slang of misspelled words and numbers. But I wondered, would this generate an avalanche of spam? I closed my eyes and dove in anyway. Damn the spam — let’s surf!

For the uninitiated, MySpace is a free social-interacting tool, a website where anyone, virtually anywhere, can put his or her picture, biographical information, more photos, favorite movies, people they’d want to meet (living or dead; I chose living, since the dead are rather dull) and all of that stuff that often comes across our desk from well-intentioned friends in the form of e-mail surveys. You can put just about anything on it, and you can even set it to private so that people have to know your last name to see your profile. People can invite you to be their friends, and you can deny or accept.

If you accept, they’ll be listed on your profile page as your friends. The higher the number of friends, the less of a loser you are, but you don’t want to accept just anyone. If someone is your friend, they can post stuff in your comments section. If someone you don’t recognize wants to be your friend, chances are they want to invite you to get a free iPod or God knows what all. Apparently I’m too old to attract perverts. Not a one has come my way.

Next, I did the thing that can always get you in trouble: I started trolling for ex-boyfriends. There were a few here and there, but some of the most notable ones are still MIA. The generation just below mine, the age of my kids’ babysitters, is all over MySpace. I’d be willing to bet that 90 percent of U.S.teens have a MySpace page. (Actually, the latest comScore Media Metrix numbers show 4.7 million MySpace users under 18.)

I came across my regular babysitter, the amazing Amy, and sent her an invitation to be my friend. She accepted, and now I’m privy to her every thought. Her best friend also joined up. I got an invitation from some creepy dude with a bad photo named Tom, who looked rather geeky, so I declined. I told Amy about it and she laughed hard and long. “Robyn, he’s the founder of MySpace, and when you join, he sends you an invitation to be his friend,” Amy told me. “I can’t believe you denied him.” Amy and her teenage friends laughed a little too long and a little too loudly at my obvious old-lady error.

It was yet another reminder of how totally unhip I am. I remember vowing in high school that this would never happen to me; I’d be hip until I died (never mind the fact that I wasn’t then). MySpace, I believed, would help give me the cachet I’d been missing. And just in case I didn’t get it there, I surfed over to Facebook.com and signed up there too. On both sites, friends I hadn’t heard from in years swam over to say hi. It was like a class reunion, and the first joke was always that we were, by far, the oldest people on the sites.

Now I have to regulate how much time I spend on MySpace. It’s addictively easy to change the color of your background every day, or mess with your profile photo, or change your favorite TV shows. I also occasionally search for long-lost friends from elementary school.

The old me would be exhausted.