What happens on MySpace doesn't always stay on MySpace.
When we're in love, we want everyone to know. We hold hands, write songs about it and wear wedding rings. And in cyberspace, those of us with MySpace pages giggle when we get to change our status from "single" to "in a relationship." Indeed, for those of us in this online community, declaring our status, and watching the status of our
significant others change, is a hobby that can sometimes become obsessive.
MySpace, of course, isn't just about sex. It's a great place to communicate with friends, find old schoolmates and catch up without the long, "What have you been doing for X number of years?" conversation. But when it's late at night and you've got a crush, MySpace is the best place around for a little cyber stalking.
When I started my page, it was summer 2005, and I had a crush, a huge crush, on a boy I didn't know anything about. So I logged on to
, created my profile and looked him up. It was great. Suddenly I had something to talk to him about; I knew how old he was, his interests and, most important, that he was single. A few days later, after I'd gotten up the guts to e-mail and ask him out, I received my very first MySpace message from him. He'd looked me up too and first found a blank profile and then, suddenly, one filled with personal information that was interesting and a touch coy-"from blank to swank," as he said. But that he'd looked me up and admitted it meant we were free to talk about the lists of books, movies and music that littered our pages.
Thanks to MySpace, I could see who his friends were, and saw that I knew some of them. And I could read the comments left by his female friends, check out their pages and make sure that I was the only woman vying for his attention.
In other words, it was like junior high, but with more anonymity.
But putting such personal information out there also creates new quandaries of how, and when, to start telling other
people that we've found (or lost) someone.
One night at the Cowgirl, I overheard a couple fighting about the fact that she had her page marked "in a relationship" and he was designating himself "single." "Fine," she yelled across the patio. "I'll change mine to single, too, and we'll see who gets hit on more."
When I used MySpace to post a survey for my friends on their MySpace habits, one friend told me she changed her online relationship status "when he changed his," while another passive-aggressively set her profile to "swinger" (one of the options given by MySpace) because her boyfriend never updates or checks his page.
Then there's the breakup. Some of us have left our status as "in a relationship" to avoid new suitors (or creepy guys from Malaysia). A few brave souls out there told me they jumped right back in to "single" and dropped their former flames from their list of "top friends."
"Top friends" is another feature of MySpace. It allows each user to create a hierarchy for his or her online friends. Placing that special someone in (or pulling them from) the top friends list is another way of publicly announcing how things are going. Put your new squeeze too high in the ranking and you look clingy; too low and those harsh feelings of rejection start to move in. One friend solves the problem by only having bands as her top friends, while others slowly move their new loves up one position at a time, watching his or her page in a silent game of chess, until the only move left is into that top spot. Moving someone down slowly from the top list also works well for a breakup that isn't hostile. And for a significant other who has a new flame, dropping them altogether is completely acceptable. And reversible with just a click.
If only life were so easy.