Don’t give me the Samaritans’ number, I don’t need it.
For some time, I’ve been asking myself what the point is of being in sites like MySpace and Facebook. Specifically, every time I get an email telling me that there’s a message for me in one of them. Or someone tells me ‘You didn’t know? I sent you a message on MySpace.’ So I take the time to log in and look. I might have to wade through a couple of people asking to be my friend; if I know them I just say Yes and do no more about it. If I don’t I may take the time to visit their profile, read about them and decide if there’s any genuine connection or it’s just someone trying to up their ‘friend’ count. But honestly what’s the point? If it’s an acquaintance- say songwriter Whine McGonagall for example, what am I doing? Stating publicly that I know this person. Thinking maybe someone looking at his page will click a link and come to my page. If I don’t know them, is this going to be the beginning of a great friendship? Hardly. It’s really no more than a wave across the seas of cyberspace. As for Facebook, it’s worse. All I’ve ever enjoyed in it is a game of scrabble with a friend who lives in the same town. Everything else has been stupid, spamming or, in a very few cases, genuine information that I would have acted on had I received it directly by email and not by logging into Facebook five days after it was sent.
These feelings were supported by this post from Momus’s blog.
So what are the counter arguments?
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- it’s an important aspect of marketing your music. All blurbs about marketing yourself as an independent musician stress the importance of a good MySpace and Facebook profile. But they’re aimed at hungry teens or twenties, meaning …
- …some people conduct full and fascinating social lives this way. I look at my daughter, to whom Bebo and MSN messenger are as natural and ubiquitous as the phone. But my social network, small as it is, doesn’t work that way. I’d hoped Facebook, which I first joined through work contacts, would lead to more of a sense of involvement and community but if it’s there somewhere I’ve missed it. I have far more useful interaction with these people by commenting on their blogs or them commenting on my work blog.
- it’s a harmless social gesture, like sending Christmas cards – another thing that seems a waste of time but which I can somehow justify as a prompt to reach out and say ‘hello’ to people you’d forgotten about, but may now want to have further contact with.
None of this has convinced me. And I admit I find a slight nervous excitement about the thought of killing them off. Not that you can kill of Facebook – I’ve read somewhere you can’t delete your profile. But you can deface it.
If I’m going to find online community I’d like to do it in the pages of this blog, by inviting comments. So tell me – do you use these sites, do you get anything from them? Would it matter to you if you – or I – committed MySpaceicide?