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INTERNET
What I learned on Myspace

By Hannah Selinger | RAW STORY COLUMNIST

The new Internet phenomenon of Myspace.com has reached almost everyone I know. Friends of mine who once used Friendster.com to advertise their likes and dislikes have long since made the switch to Myspace, which is easier to operate, less prone to mechanical failure, and which alerts you every time you have a new message or comment.

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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 Girls.

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 I am?

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.

Who knew?

Hannah Selinger is a weekly contributor to Raw Story .

 



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