April 28, 2006

The saddest thing ever

In continuation of the debate on myspace, the news had a jarring headline this morning featuring a soldier that had returned home from Iraq. He simply posted a bulletin (on the aforementioned website) on the sad state of affairs of the world and then concluded that he no longer wanted to play a role in it and that he was making his departure TODAY. His myspace and real world friends found him deceased in his residence.

I know things are bad. New Orleans is gone. Pretty soon I'll be looking at horse breeds because I can't afford gas. You're getting arrested for drinking in your hotel room (yes people that went down in Texas two weeks ago). Your parents are losing their jobs if they work for Ford (3000 unemployed in Norfolk last week). Hell, everyone is losing their jobs. Someone you love or know is, has, or will be in Iraq. Pedophiles are getting caught on National T.V. - anyone seen the Today Show's "Perverted Justice specials"?

I was thinking I was running out of happy things to type. But take heart, I found them. Katie Couric is going to be a co-anchor on the evening news. Rosie O'donnell and Joy Behar are going to be mud wrestlin on "The View". Hench keeps getting promoted to the next grade here in OEF land despite never showing up for OEF class (props to G for making me laugh extremely loud with that statement). Some of our best friends are getting married for the right reasons. Someone in your family might be having a baby. Someone you know might have somehow gotten a promotion. F**K I went to dog-n-burger yesterday!!
And if you go out this weekend - I might be dancing somewhere. Don't be scared I'm not having a seizure.

April 19, 2006

Myspace Manifesto

A few weeks ago, Phillips totally ripped the band-aid off the scab that I’ve been picking at for a while now; that scab being my love/hate relationship with Myspace. He posted a rather thoughtful bulletin informing everyone that he was going to delete his profile, and that anyone who wished to remain in contact with him should email him his or her information. The thing that struck me as completely odd and telling about the whole thing was that I actually contemplated whether or not I should email him with my info.

Because, you see, I wasn’t all that sure that I was actually friends with Phillips, despite the fact that there was a 1”x1” graphic that indicated that he was just that on my myspace page for the last several months, and the fact that I think he’s a really awesome human being. Sure, we were friendLY enough in college. We swam in a few of the same social pools, and once he was nice enough to star in a rather ill-conceived short film about a boy and his monkey for Hench’s & mine Short Works in Narrative Media class.

Hold the phone. I’m gonna go back to the beginning of my love/hate relationship with d’space for a second. Like most people, I claim to not even be sure why I joined the damn thing. I was on Friendster for awhile, but never really did much with it, and for no good reason later migrated to Myspace. I think I may just have a medical need to be clued-in to everything on the internet, so if I read an article or hear about a website, I’ll bop on over and sign-up; as evidenced by the seventy-eleven billion blogs/journals/diaries/whatever I’ve started and abandoned in the last ten years. Each and everytime, I think I let the very idea of this new web page or program take over my brain. I’ll imagine that this is the platform upon which I will begin to change my life; I will finally be able to communicate my thoughts in a concise and meaningful manner, I will electronically reinforce my relationships via this webpage, I will learn about new music and expand my horizons.

So I signed up for Myspace. And I was on it for almost a year before anyone I actually knew (besides a kid that interned at my radio station) was counted among my “friends”. For the longest time, I had 8 friends. One was Dane Cook, one was Tom, one was Lagwagon, one was the aforementioned intern, and the rest were people from MS groups. True, there were people on Myspace that I actually knew from college or whatever, but I felt kind of like a douchebag “requesting” to be considered their friend when I actually WAS their friend in real life at one time. I sort of assumed that if I was supposed to be in touch with these people that I would have without the help of a website.

IN FACT, one of my original inspirations for this here blog was that it was to be the anti-Myspace. A little corner of the internet where people who actually know and interact with each other in real life could mingle and entertain each other while at work or in spite of geographical constraints. All the while satisfying the need to feel like people give a damn what I have to say and find me utterly fascinating. Cause really, that’s the mission of myspace, but myspace just is just a walmartized version of Our Electronic Friendship.

And I ended up buying into it! I eventually ditched those first few “friends” I’d had on Myspace and replaced them tenfold (save for Dane Cook and Lagwagon) with people I actually know. There’s lots of ODU people, some people I’d worked with at the waterpark, and all sorts of other random characters from my life that I’d otherwise lost touch with. There’s also a bunch of people I interact with on a regular basis in real life; and the effect myspace started to have on those relationships, the way I was conducting my relationships with everyone on my friends list, as well as the just plain curious and anonymous visitors really started to freak me out.

So then comes Phillips’ bulletin. He basically said that while he has really enjoyed reconnecting with everyone, Myspace has become sort of a gluttonous social black hole in his life, and he needs to make a clean break of it. Well, that’s how I took it anyway. I would re-post the bulletin here, but some of you dear readers may not have been on his friends list and therefore not his intended audience. (Rupert Murdoch owns Myspace now, and I’m not trying to get stuffed in the trunk of a car and shipped to Moldova to be sold into human slavery for possibly violating any terms of service.)

I think the most troubling aspect for me is the whole idea of having a page on the internet that is supposed to give the world a succinct picture of who you are as a person. I somehow got my brother to sign up for Myspace, as most of his high school friends had been making it a habit of reconnecting with him through me on both Friendster & Myspace. Which is fine, as they were friends of mine too, but I really just wanted my friend count to creep ever so slightly higher (not really), so the Butcher signed up. A few days later, he said to me in passing, “I was really surprised that you didn’t have ‘Johnny Dangerously’ in your list of favorite movies.” Friends, I was BESIDE myself. I felt like I couldn’t draw another breath without getting myself to an internet connection before any more unsuspecting internet dwellers got the wrong idea about me.

But just including “Johnny Dangerously” in a list of a few dozen other movies doesn’t add or subtract from the picture I’ve electronically painted of myself. I could replace all those movies with fake ones, and it would have the same result. Now, If I had the time and space to explain on my profile page WHY I like “Johnny Dangerously” so much, then you might actually learn something about me, however mundane. (That it was a movie that my dad introduced to my brothers and I as kids, which took as a sort of necessary homework for entrance into his secret club, as we thought my dad was the coolest man on the planet.) But Myspace forces you to boil everything that could possibly be interesting about you into these tiny boxes, conveniently categorized; like Walmart might, and lately I’ve been yearning for some mom & pop shop electronic socialization. So here I is, Miss Celie.

But I will admit that I’m not quite so strong as my sorta-friend Phillips. I can’t bring myself to quit Myspace; as it can be a good thing, if used properly. So for now, I’m risking life and limb and violating those Terms of Service by lying about my age. It’s currently the only way to make it so your profile can only be viewed by people on my friends list. I figure I’m okay with whatever THOSE people derive from what I may or may not put in my profile, as they actually know me as a person (besides Dane & Lagwagon). And, in turn, I’ll do my best to use Myspace less as the leg that my social endtable stands on, and more as the decorative lace doily I throw on top of it to spruce it up from time to time.

I realize now that I was a crummy jerk for thinking that just because people may have drifted out of my life (even when they weren’t all that solidly in my life to begin with) that they should stay out of my life (and mine theirs). There’s no harm in keeping the lines of communication open. But just because they’re there and you’ve agreed to be on each other’s friends list doesn’t mean you have to hold hands and skip down the street with them.

I was listening to a Jets to Brazil song the other day, and a line struck me:

“We live like astronauts, our missions never cross.”

With Myspace, while that may be true, at least we have access to each other’s flight itineraries just in case we ever want to rendezvous at the Tatooine Cantina for a brewskie.

April 3, 2006

Teens are Scary

I was standing in line at Hot Topic the other day. (Yes, I know Hot Topic. What am I still doing going into Hot Topic?) As I stood there, ears bleeding from the intense moody sounds of Hawthorne Heights and H.I.M, I realized that there were in fact not one but two lines for one register. So trying to expedite my departure I ask the guy in front of me - Is this the line? He pulls his uni-bang off of his mascara covered eyelid and responds “Man (I’m not a man) I guess it is or I wouldn’t be standing here. His gaze shifts over me and returns back to his feet. I think - well jeeze don’t kill yourself I didn’t ask you to solve the sphinx’s riddle.

Man, if only Robert Smith were here. He’d save me.

As we stand, despite being there longer than the new comers - the dude in front of me continues to let people pass. I attempt to spur him on up to the counter and am greeted with a mix bag of ugly faces and glassy eyed greetings. After 5 people pass him, I say F*** this - I’ve already heard The Silence in Black and White 3 times and fear I my cut my ears off. As I begin to contemplate going all Van Gogh - I gather my super cute black converse and pass this emo chicken and the “gothic” girls wearing the huge baggie pants that have gathered in the speedy line. The cashier gave me no grief at all and just said, “these janks are f**ing hot!” I say - “they are pretty hot.” I make a joke about passing the emo kids and she’s says “Emo” is so over. It’s more about incompetant rebellion now. Incompetant (sp) rebellion??

(so is that abbreviated INCOREBELLO??) Cause I’ve probably been incorebello since 2nd grade..

I’m not advocating cutting in line or joking the morose habits of the rich enough to look poor teenagers. If you have enough money to buy hot topic clothes, then you should have enough to generate some friggin happiness for yourself. I guess it’s just sometimes measures have to be taken to get results. Standing around looking “moody” only makes you look f**ing weird. Not rebellious, not emo, but weird. I may not be as book smart as I was years ago, but I’m happiER dammit.