Tuesday, September 26, 2006

MySpace Friends?

I have a MySpace account. I have lots of accounts out there on the web. In many cases it's just a matter of handing out your virtual business cards, knowing that most of them will be trashed, just hoping that eventually you'll make a contact that matters.
What I find fascinating is the whole 'friend' concept. Is the idea that you collect 'friends' like baseball cards? Who wins? The person with the biggest collection, or are some more valuable than others? Do you get bragging rights if you have Pope Benedict in your list?
I can understand if this is a real social setting. If these were real friends who you interfaced with on a regular basis, then maybe it works. It's just that the whole structure of the site is designed to collect casual and superficial friends.

And some automated ones as well.

I have been rather selective about approving the friend links that have been offered. I'm up front on my page that I'm there for the contacts. If you want a blog come to this one, not myspace. If you want to talk, use regular email. I hate logging into a specialized website for email, when I have a perfectly good email client already open and waiting.

So when a friend request appears, I check it out. If it's someone in publishing, a writer or a publisher, I'll gladly approve the request. If it's a good time girl, I'll just let it pass.

But sometimes there are ambiguous cases. An enthusiastic science fiction fan appeared in the request list. Possible legitimate contact, so I approved.

Oops. Instantly, within one minute, I had eight more requests, ALL from particularly good looking women. Curious, I sampled the profiles of a couple of them. Other than the photo and the name, the profiles were identical. The same background photo, the same font, the same chatty, partly-girl description of themselves.

I can imagine some software in the background, generating templates on the fly, watching for an unwary friend acceptance to trigger a flood of new friend requests. It's a different kind of business card I guess, or maybe more like the fliers stuffed under the windshield wipers at a parking lot.

I haven't given up on MySpace, but I have the feeling it's not quite my demographic.

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