MySpace and Me: A Little Cognitive Dissonance Mixed With a Bit of Existential Crisis

I broke down and registered a MySpace account a few days ago. I had formerly resisted the idea because all of what I'd seen and heard about the place made it seem like a club for illiterates. I know that sounds condescending. I suppose, when you get right down to it, it is. But I've been on the Internet now for a long time, and I've long since passed the point where "omg lol ur so funy!!1!!!1! kthxbye" constitutes stimulating conversation.

But I digress. I've been on Friendster and orkut for quite a while now, but those places seem to have more or less dried up in competition with MySpace. So, I told myself that if I really am interested in social networking, I have to go where the people are. Hence, MySpace. (If I'm being honest, though, I do have to admit that the social outcast side of my personality still hasn't completely died and that the validation inherent in getting friend requests is the sort of ego stroking that really soothes that part of me. So I guess I am shallow, after all.)

The experience has been somewhat strange. For a couple of reasons. Of course the first thing I did was look up various friends from college and high school as well as some relatives. That, in turn, brought me to browsing through their friend networks to see if I knew anyone. I also eventually poked through the alumni lists of the schools I attended. It was the high school list that really threw me.

See, I've been out of high school now for about nine years. For the most part, I haven't seen anyone from back then except for a few of my closer friends. Everyone else exists to me only as a memory. And, of course, since those memories are necessarily of the last time I saw them, they're all still kids. So it was kind of strange to see how these people I grew up with kept on growing up. The one that really made me do a double take was this girl I knew from chorus. I was only in chorus for my last semester and she was a freshman at the time. She must have been about 15 and she was small to boot, so when I looked at her profile and saw that she's 24 I had kind of a hard time digesting it. She looks older. Everybody looks older. Which is to be expected, of course, but somehow I just wasn't prepared to see all of these people in their mid-twenties when in my head they're still in their mid-teens.

And even seeing all of these people I knew, many of whom I was either friends or friendly with, I wasn't sure I really wanted to contact them. On the one hand it felt like a regression, and on the other, I didn't know if they'd want to hear from me. After all, if I wasn't close enough with them to keep in touch over the past nine years, why would they care to talk to me now?

I did contact a few of them, and some were even excited to hear from me. And I also got a few friend requests from some other people, some of whose lives I am really interested to hear about. It's a little exciting, in a way.

I think I'm coming to realize that I'm kind of lonely. Obviously, I'm not alone--I have my wife as well as a few friends in town. But when I got back from visiting my mom and stepdad I was in something of a funk for days afterwards. In fact, I'm not sure I'm completely out of it yet. It was just so nice to have other people in my life, people who I could really connect with and who I knew and who knew me. You know, family. I think I've been missing that for a long time, that I've been feeling isolated. It's been much better since I came to San Diego because at least here I do have friends. Back in Orange County it was just me and Juliette. But it's still not the same connection I had back home or even in college, where I was part of a bigger group. Maybe this explains why I've been so active on forums here and elsewhere on the 'Net--because I want that feeling of belonging and connection.

I haven't gotten to the other weirdness that has come out of my experience with MySpace but I've gotten rather long-winded in this bit, so I think I'll save it for another time.