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Today's word on journalism

Monday, January 29, 2007

Words as weapons:

"When he had a pen in his hand it was like giving a kid a machine gun."

--Peter Hall, theater director, on "Angry Young Man" playwright John Osborne (1929-1994)

Are you on MySpace?

By Alexis Lear

December 15, 2006 | MySpace, your space, our space, whose space?

We've all heard about it, seen it, looked at a picture on it, had it, wrote a message to someone on it, or have been completely and utterly obsessed with it. is a social networking database that has taken the world by storm. With 106 million members ranging from age 14 and up, and with 230,000 people joining every day, MySpace will probably be around for a while. MySpace was founded in July 2003 by Tom Anderson, the current president and CEO, Chris DeWolfe, and small team of programmers.

In July 2005 Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation bought the company for $580 million.

So for all of you lost souls out there who have been fortunate enough to not have been sucked in to MySpace-mania yet, you might be wondering what this Web site has to offer.

MySpace will let you request and accept friendships with other people registered on the Web site. It will also allow you to design and personalize your very own MySpace page, leave messages for your friends, rank your friends by placing them in your Top Friends, post pictures, and many other things of the like. So all of this can be fun, entertaining, and something to do while surfing the internet, but what is so addictive about this Web site that 106 million people feel a need to participate?

"I check my MySpace page at least every day, OK, probably more," said Alison Schofield, a senior majoring in public relations. Schofield is only one of thousands of Utah State students that have a MySpace page.

"I like to see what my friends are up to and if anyone has left me messages," she said.

MySpace is also known for being a popular dating network. Most users post their pictures on their page and oftentimes write a little about themselves. This can be great, easy, and accessible if you are looking for another Leo with blonde hair, blue eyes, who loves to snowboard as much as you do, but it is also great for the 60 year-old men who want to meet and talk with high school students who don't know any better.

On Sept. 29, Fox News reported about a "17-year-old Cape Cod boy he met on sent a text message to his family back home claiming he was being held against his will on the man's west Georgia farm."

Another story featured at said "In New Jersey, Majalie Cajuste is grieving the murder of her daughter Judy. The 14-year-old reportedly told friends she met a man in his 20s through"

These are just two examples of the dangers that can come from MySpace and the display of personal information on the internet.

So yes, the stories we all hear about online predators and how dangerous MySpace is are true; but when proper precautions are taken MySpace can be deemed simply as another communication fad of the decade.

"I keep in touch with all of my friends that I studied abroad with," said Kelly Kamnikar, a junior at North Dakota University. "I can't afford to talk on the phone with them all the time, and it's so much easier than emailing," she said.

MySpace can be used for other good things as well. MySpace has over 300 humanitarian groups--everything from fundraising for Hurricane Katrina victims to help to stop the genocide in Africa.

I have been threatened, bribed, and pleaded with to join MySpace by many of my friends. I don't say this to gloat, or to make it seem like I have that many friends who think I'm so cool that they would do anything to get me to join MySpace. I only say it to prove that MySpace can be more than just a place to meet people, show your crazy party pictures of you bonging a beer from last weekend, or a place for creeps to go and check out hot 13 year-olds.

When used appropriately and moderately, MySpace can be a great way to talk to friends and stay in touch with people you don't see everyday. I only abstain from joining because I do not need another addiction or social outlet in my life. I already have a hard enough time not texting someone for an hour while I write this article.

Who's space it is, and whatever you do with it, let me offer a word of advice; don't be dumb.

Don't post your phone number on your page, or your address, or the fact that you never lock your front door. Don't post pictures of yourself in your skimpiest halter top wearing your favorite booty shorts hoping some cute guy will see your picture and want to date you. But mostly, don't waste your life away on MySpace. Use it as a tool, as a way of communication, and even as a way of meeting people; but don't use it as a way to live your life. Because in 30 years when MySpace is a distant memory joining the ranks of slap bracelets, pogs, and Tamagotchi as fads you claimed you were 'never a part of'; you will regret the fact that you have lost contact with all your college friends because they deleted their MySpace accounts and moved on. MySpace now, but maybe give your friends a call on a telephone once in a while, remember those? They'll appreciate it, and you won't even have to log on to the internet to do it.



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