Any social network that is controlled by a certain form of technology like a website generally looks to please the users and therefore is designed for this sole purpose. Nightingale in her vivid explanation says that, “Industry players maintain an environment where they offer a degree of allegiance to site users” (Burgess & Green, p.2, para.1). This applies even to renowned internet site MySpace. Being one of the largest and most commonly used social website in the world, MySpace boasts of a membership of 125million people. MySpace got its inspiration from Friendster, and expanded to become quite a frequently visited site by most of the young people almost across the world. Generally, it provides its users a way in which they can connect with one another around different culture and content. By mid 2005 News Corporation bought its foundation, eUniverse whereby $327million was valued for its hold on MySpace (Crunch Base, para.4).
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The following essay examines MySpace as a social meeting place for its users. It intends to look at its constituents, its stability and the group of people who use it, the purpose of its use and its advantage. We also intend to cover some ground on how participants in the network govern the behavior of other users. The paper also looks into the working of the owners of the site and how they regulate usage of the site. Finally we will examine what relationship there is between the online and offline social interactions of the network?
MySpace: The Overview
Music is glue when it comes to cultural matters in the lives of young people (Boyd, p.4, para.2). By the wake of 2004, the marketing agents of MySpace started to use music bands to promote the site. Bands began advertising through the site, and registering their presence more and more often in MySpace. Club goers in their mid 20-30 years of age began accessing the site in order to acquire valuables from the bands. The opportunities that presented themselves to the users became the point of attraction of MySpace. Most of these, as Boyd (p.6, para.2) puts it were “lovers of indie rock or hip- hop music bands”. The users who began accessing MySpace were mostly die- hard lovers of these bands, having an unsatisfied interest in the sensation of being closer and closer to these celebrities. The freedom to download latest music tracks and albums, and also the opportunity to chat freely with the celebrities attracted a great deal of these users.
Consequently, these people invited their less musically affiliated friends to join the site. The basic attraction now turned its focus from music affection to personality based attraction that individuals would pull to themselves. By June 2005, the site had attracted a wide range of bloggers in most high schools in the United States of America, while other teenagers across the globe still stack to other social networks that were available. These teens in countries like Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines were still popular with sites like Friendstar which would serve them more than it did for MySpace.
The site, as most sites do, contains a home page for every individual that decides to subscribe to it. This homepage described the individual’s details like his age, sex, photo picture and his status. The member is given a slot to upload his own video according to the specifications of the owners. Other interesting demography contained in the homepage may include individual’s location, favorite tastes and an open description of the individual. The attraction comes in when friends who are on line can do a varied number of things through the same. These include online chatting, status updates, sending private texts to one another’s inboxes, and uploading videos that the user wants to share with other individuals. The degree to which the internet has been used to blow up the social welfare of the community is amazing; thanks to applications as MySpace. Young people always want to be heard. The interest in satisfying some craving for attention is what drives many more to such sites as MySpace. This is a user friendly application where any young person is free to express his/her views towards n issue, without fear of peoples’ reactions, since they are usually nowhere in sight. Musicians and upcoming artists are the other group of people who take advantage of the massive “digital crowd” that the site holds. They will, more often than not, announce releases of new of their videos and probably give a preview or a “teaser” of what the real thing is. MySpace is widely used by business people who are interested in advertising some of their goods. The population, again, seems to be their motivation towards making moves by placing samples of their products somewhere on the homepage, or any other place, as may be agreed upon by both the person and the owners of the site. Its not only business people that do this but one may find a couple of people advertising some products they are willing to place on sale even as they chat with their friends.
Another group of people that are interested in MySpace are organizations that are interested to market events or activities that they carry out. Organizations like churches, companies, societies, even schools use these applications to reach out to as many people as possible.
Regulation of use by Owners
The privacy and publicity issue obviously becomes an issue that any owner of a social network which is as big as MySpace has to deal with. The first and most basic logistic to look into is the person’s registration. In many cases, MySpace owners will compare such details as location, age and possible people one may know. That way, computer based comparisons are given so that one will acquire a foundational structure in which to start on. More often than not, there will be features that a new applicant will have that resemble an older one. This is how the owners will regulate the search for ones friends.
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Like many other sites, MySpace advances its applications to cater for private chatting and also public chatting. The “profile” site is a public one. This though, is so only to a degree that the applicant may extent his publicity to (Boyd, p.6, para.2). The site has features where one can restrict “who sees what”. A friends- only feature in the profile page is an example of the features that can be used to make this work. In addition, one can make comments to whatever their friends or friends of their friends post on their walls, while one can only respond to a private message from a particular person’s message in the message segment or inbox. This is a feature that enhances private participants to engage in conversation without other people viewing what they are particularly saying.
A run is done in order to curb any obscenity for morality’s sake. The administrators will always keep in check the site so that any obscene scenes will not be passed on from one person to the other.
Difference with Offline Socialization
In the many studies that have been done through all the social networks, including MySpace, the participants tend to be more “real” with each other, probably because it is not a face to face interactive program. People open up more and emotions run higher in these kinds of applications. Boyd quotes an interview with Olivia, a 17 year old teenage who is a user, who says that MySpace causes “too much drama”. She complains that the top 8 best friend list “just sucks” yet, so many are willing to flow with the wave (Boyd, p.14, para.2). In his article, he still continues to say that this Top Friend feature continues to become a source of mayhem among many of the teenagers. Offline, teenagers tend to be less open to one another, hiding from one another probably because of the public image that many would want to maintain.
As much as the internet is a source of information, it covers a great deal of steps in making socialization more effective. It has definitely gone ahead to overpower the mobile phone interactive feature that it availed. These features have been used by more than just teenagers, in order to meet the social concerns of the society. Nevertheless, we have discovered that it has done more harm than we would have expected. The question still remains: Who is to blame?
- Boyd, Danah, “White Flight in Networked Publics? How Race and Class American Teen Engage me with MySpace and Facebook”. Digital Race Anthology.n.d.Washington D.C. Routledge Press. p.6
- Boyd, Danah, “Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites:The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life”. 2007. California: University of California-Berkeley. p.4
- Burgess, Jean E. & Green, Joshua B. “YouTube as Patron”. Agency and Controversy in the YouTube Community. 2008. Rethinking Place – Association of Internet Researchers. Denmark: University of Copenhagen. p.2
- Crunch Base, “MySpace”. 2010. Web.