High School seniors share views on Myspace
Five students, all of them seniors at the regional high school, sat down in the school library last week to talk about their involvement with Myspace.com. They say it's a fairly recent phenomenon that has exploded in popularity, and they estimate that more than half the students now have profiles on the site.
Taylor MacDonald says she joined Myspace about a year ago. "My sister, who's in college, was like, 'Yeah, you should get a Myspace page!' When I first got it, no one I really knew had one. So at first, she was my only friend."
Says Nina Carelli, also a senior: "I didn't even know about Myspace until Christmas vacation. One of my close friends had a page, but she never told any of us about it. We read her profile, and it was kind of weird, like she wasn't being herself. Then I decided to make one, so I could look at other people's profiles. Then my friends were like, maybe I should make one. It was kind of a chain-reaction."
Emily Lindsey joined at the beginning of the school year. "I went to a summer program in Washington, D.C.," she explains, "and all of them were like, 'We have Myspace!' It's how I can keep in touch with them, without calling them every day, or sending emails. It's kind of a quick and easy thing."
Breanna McCormick agrees: "I just moved here from Michigan this year, and I thought it was really cool that when I go to Myspace, I can still talk to all my friends back in Michigan, and look at pictures of what they're doing at school."
The students said their primary use of Myspace is as a social form of communication among friends. "It's more informal than email," says Emily. "It's not like, 'Dear So-and-So.' You can just drop a note." Says Breanna: "I like the way you get to have a little picture of yourself next to every comment you leave on a friend's space. I like that better than email."
Most of the students said they check their Myspace pages daily. The service has a feature that sends members an email to alert them whenever their page has a new message from a friend; that's usually the occasion for a visit to the site.
Nina Carelli says she understands why many kids say Myspace can be addictive: "It's not so much [working on] my own profile, but it's addicting to want to look at other people's. You'll be surprised, like, 'Oh, so-and-so has a Myspace page?' You just find the most random things. I don't really friend people who I don't know, and sometimes people friend me that I don't know, but I just approve them anyway."
Yes, in the brave new world of Myspace, "friend" is a verb. Explains Nina: "To friend somebody is to, like, click a button and be like, 'Oh, do you want to be my friend?' Then you're just on a list of people, and those are the people you can leave comments with, and look at their pictures and stuff."
None of these students say they have anything on their Myspace pages that they'd regret having posted if their parents should visit the site. But all agree they've seen some pretty ill-considered things put up on Myspace. "I look at a lot of people's pages," says Emily, "and I'm like, 'What are they thinking?' Like these half-naked pictures."
But Emily insists, "It's not like it's dangerous or anything. Adults use these online dating services, but it's not like that's what we use Myspace for. It's a way for us to keep in touch with our peers.
"But the journalism that's out there about Myspace is insane. Like on NBC on the nightly news, it was like, 'Watch out, your kids are getting stalked!' It's not like that at all."
These students say they feel completely safe on Myspace, and that they've never been bothered or harassed on the site. "I only talk to the people I see almost every day," says Nina.
"It's your choice if you want to talk to someone," says Breanna. "You don't have to respond. Like last week some girl said something bad about me, but I was just like, whatever. I don't even know her, so I didn't think about it. But I've never been harassed or anything."
They're entirely aware that people might not be what they say they are on Myspace. But they say they use it mainly to talk to their flesh-and-blood friends, not unknown people from cyberspace.
Perhaps surprisingly, the students say they believe it's reasonable that access to Myspace is blocked from computers at the high school - but not because they feel the site is the least bit dangerous.
"You can waste a lot of time on Myspace," says Breanna. "If you're bored and on the Internet, you can just look at everybody else's pictures - there's just tons of things to look at."
Megan Honey agrees, saying that if Myspace weren't blocked at the high school, "Probably people would be sitting around doing it all day."