My siblings, who are
much younger and who never got into Friendster in
the first place, have become fast and furious Myspace
addicts. They post bulletins alerting me—and
the rest of the world—to their new pictures.
They attach quizzes to their profiles, Cosmopolitan-esque
surveys that ask, “Which cast member of Sex
and the City are you?”, “Are you
a romantic kisser?” and, finally, “Your
astrological sign and you: What kind of sex do you
have?” (Sex? I think. The only sex
a 12-16-year-old has is bad sex.)
Disclaimers aside, I signed up for a Myspace account
months ago. I’m not sure if I did it because
I thought it would be good for networking—there’s
a section for resume-building—or if I just thought
it was a good way to spend an afternoon back when
I was working laboriously un-hard at a Boston law
firm. In any case, the profile exists.
When I wrote it, I was trying too hard to be funny.
The entries were long-winded. I saw fit to add to
it every intellectual book I’ve ever enjoyed.
I spent a really long time considering what types
of music to include in the “music” section
of the profile because, after all, you don’t
want someone cruising by your profile and discovering
that the only band you ever listen to is the Indigo
I also uploaded some pictures of myself. I should
add here that the photos I added of myself were 1.)
true to life but not outstanding, and, 2.) featured
me when I was considerably… heavier. So, last
month, my cousin sent me a digital picture taken in
August of a scantily-clad and newly svelte me, enjoying
the Jersey shore sunshine. “Take those pictures
of you off Myspace and replace them with this,”
she instructed. I did as I was told.
I became one of those women I always complain about
when I haphazardly stumble upon their Internet
profiles. I became the tan brunette in the very, very,
very small crimson American Apparel bikini.
I should mention, also, that Myspace permits members
to search randomly for other members, either by directed
searches—you can, for instance, plug in your
university and begin there—or by screen names.
People are connected to other people through friends,
too, so my profile is accessible to a wide cross-section
of Myspace users. Until I changed my profile photograph
this month, however, I had received little in the
way of Myspace spam. Perhaps once or twice I had been
alerted to a message in my inbox that came from someone
I didn’t know. Perhaps once or twice a man,
bored on a Saturday night, had asked this stranger
out to dinner. Once or twice. That was tolerable.
But when the picture of me in the bikini emerged,
I suddenly learned one very important lesson: Posting
a nearly nude picture of oneself on the Internet is
not really a great idea.
I got too many e-mails. I got e-mails that read “waz
supppppp cutiiiiiiiii,” and e-mails that read,
“i cant [sic.] resist a girl on the beach.....missing
it so bad....are you comming [sic.] into the city
at all....i live in soho, come grab a drink.”
I also received one particularly disturbing e-mail
that concluded with the following sentiment: “Would
you have any interest in allowing me to be your slave?”
(My cousin’s response to this wackiest of messages?
“I am speechless. I have no speech.”)
I have already made it clear to friends and family
that I will never date anyone who writes “sup”
or “lol” (Internet shorthand for “laugh
out loud”) to me in an e-mail. Nor am I interested
in meeting or dating anyone over 35; I’m 25,
guys—get over it. But the problem runs a little
deeper. First of all, I want to know what was so deplorable
about my previous pictures. Is everything I suspect
about men actually true? Do they really only want
some dumb girl who posts hott (I’m joking; relax)
pictures of herself on a Myspace profile? Are they
completely ignoring the part of my profile that says
that I would like to meet Elizabeth Bishop (don’t
worry—I know she’s dead), or that I listen
to Holly Golightly, or that my general interests include
baseball and brainpower? Do they have any idea who
Of course they don’t, but there’s another
problem, too. I am single and I live alone and New
York is a big, lonely place. It wouldn’t be
so bad to meet someone spectacular who doesn’t
work in the restaurant industry and who doesn’t
have a severe drinking problem. In a sense, Myspace
is a great outlet for this kind of dating, because
it allows people to be funny, it allows people to
connect with friends of friends, and it doesn’t
charge $30 a month like JDate or Match.com or any
of those other useless Internet dating sites.
I am tired of getting e-mails from members like “The
R” who ask me such inane questions as “how
do u like ASS-TORIA?” I don’t know if
that’s supposed to be an insult or not, and
I have no intention of finding out. And yet, as my
friend Abe noted, despite my overstuffed inbox, I
still haven’t removed the picture. Why?
Well, first of all, I did it to be funny. There is
an inherent irony in a bikini-ed woman affixed to
a profile that mentions Philip Roth’s American
Pastoral. That bikini-ed woman is so far from
who I am that I can’t help but laugh when I
look at the picture. And the other reason is that
the suspense is killing me. I’m dying to know
what the next e-mail will say. The grammar may be
strikingly bad and the men may be unattractive. They
may actually expect me to respond when they ask me
if I’m interested in my own personal slave.
But, from this vantage point, it’s good clean
fun. Also, and perhaps most importantly, I have learned
a very valuable lesson: men like women in bikinis.
Hannah Selinger is a weekly contributor to Raw