Myspace – A Warning From History

It looks like Myspace is downsizing massively, with up to half of the workforce facing redundancy. This is a sad day for those of us who remember the site in its heyday some, ooh, four years ago now.

If you’re not a musician, you might have forgotten the days when MySpace was something used by real people to communicate. In fact, if you’re new to social networking entirely (perhaps you’re a foetus or a granny, or BT said they’d be round to connect you sometime before 6pm in 1998 and you’re still waiting) then you might never have experienced the wonders of the personal MySpace profile at all.

If this is the case, then let me explain it to you: imagine a world that’s sort of like Facebook, except instead of looking to talk about your real life with boring and predictable people you already know, you can seek deep and meaningful new friendships with – for example – any and all of the girls between 17 and 22 who live within knobbing distance of your house, and who have a picture of themselves in their knickers publicly available.

And unlike the unimaginative blue and white uniform of Facebook (what are you, a sailor?) MySpace opened up the endless possibilities of design to anyone and everyone who wanted to stamp their own personalities onto it. Only for some reason the only personalities who ever seemed to take this opportunity were colourblind, hyperactive and terrified that the glittery alphabet was an endangered species and must be rounded up in the hope that they might breed in the safe captivity of an html table.

I had a MySpace profile. Technically, I still do, as I was reminded when I looked at my spam folder today to see notifications that some people I had never met were about to have a birthday. Which, if you think about it, is every single day anyway.

So, about three years after I last used it, I thought I’d take another look at my MySpace and see what on earth I was thinking, now that I have acquired the retrospect to see MySelf as others probably did. Join me why don’t you, and please share yours if you’re at all inspired to dig it out.

Background Image
Very important, this. It sets the tone for your profile, giving an indication as to what you might be like as a person. For example, you could have a dark and moody background, indicating that you were not to be messed with, a deep and intelligent thinker. Alternatively, you could paint yourself as some sort of remedial tart, like this:

Pure class, I’m sure you’ll agree. And no, those are not my legs. I still quite like this, although I’m not sure I’d tile my CV with it.

Profile Picture
Choose carefully, this is probably about 80% of what others will judge you on in this virtual shop window. Try-hard professional photos as personal profile pictures make me cringe my shoulders inside out, but that’s no excuse for producing this instead:

Here, I’m torn. I still have that poster and that hair, so clearly no regrets there. But really, what could anyone deduce from this other than that I have at least one eye, am probably gay, may like acid, may or may not be female. It’s a good job I wasn’t cruising, because I think I just cock-blocked myself.

Blog Entries
‘Well… there IS a section there for blogs, I’m supposed to be a writer, so I suppose I should at least write something…’, but as you can probably tell even I seemed unconvinced that anyone who visited my profile would be at all interested in knowing about anything that was going on inside my head as opposed to a few centimetres below my neck instead.

Realising that the only people who would hit my page would be guys who were cruising and would take one look for topless photos and then move onto the next girl, my blog attempts were less than half-hearted. A random mixture of minute details posted about once every three months, read by nobody, that made me look like I sat around for weeks in between, just breathing. Even this blog is already better than that, and you’re the only person who’s read it so far.

Personal Details
I believe it was compulsory to lie in this bit to enhance your profile.

I think I did it wrong.

‘I enjoy meeting my friends, going to the cinema, and going swimming’. Rather like the faux smalltalk ‘personal interests’ section on an application for a job at Greggs, no one actually cares. But even though we all know that no one cares as we flick carelessly through other people’s, when it comes to filling out our own profiles we inevitably forget this and go to town on detailing anything we have a passing interest in or unhealthy obsession with in an attempt to define ourselves in html.

Here you can see that I’ve gone for the ‘massive list of bands’ option as though anyone gives a shit anymore after hearing my profile tune. I love that fact that it’s clearly formed of some sort of sense of duty to promote some artists that nobody else will ever have heard of, but with no links to give anyone any chance of actually hearing them.

So, there we have it. Is it a shame that everyone stopped using Myspace and migrated to Facebook? Not really. OK, Facebook is slick and predictable – but ultimately better for preventing eye-rape and holding onto some fragments of dignity.

And yet… I have to admit I will miss Myspace, if only because for years it’s been the best place to look for a band online. If the site disappears, we’ll have to start using our brains to discover music. And who wants that?