The less obvious reason to hate MySpace

The most obvious reason is, of course, that it’s so ugly. Let me rephrase that: it’s sooo ugly. Seriously, is you leave the average MySpace page open on your computer and go away for a long weekend, don’t be surprised if if you come back and find that it has physically sucked all the beauty out of the room around it, and your Koryo dynasty maebyong vase has turned into a World’s Greatest Dad coffee mug.

I don’t mind the people who customise their MySpace pages to make them ugly; I’m a fan of the internet’s role as a venue for unbridled creativity, and good taste is just another bridle for people to cast aside like a squeezed-out tube of toothpaste. Customizing MySpace pages is a vibrant contemporary folk art and adds to the joiety of nations. In fact, the internet is rapidly becoming the world’s largest repository of outsider art, and we should celebrate that. I don’t actually want to look at your eye-melting MySpace page, read your horribly sincere poetry or look at your drawings of scantily clad Dark Elves, any more than you want to read my ill-informed pontification about art, religion and cricket, but the internet is comfortably big enough for all of us.

myspace screenshot

I think it’s good people can choose to make their MySpaces ugly. What’s less forgiveable is that there’s no apparent scope for making them attractive. The default appearance is crappy and the customisation possibilities are intentionally crippled in a way that makes it as hard as possible to create the effect you want. But despite everything I’ve just said, the ugliness isn’t what prompted me to write this post. Nor is it the fact that the site is slow and buggy, or that it keeps logging you out, and when you need to log in, you get redirected to another page entirely which takes forever to load.

No, what really irritates me is this. On MySpace, you can edit your profile to choose what information to display: not just the usual stuff like age, webpage and interests, either. It has dedicated options for your marital status, religion, home town, level of education, whether you smoke, even your income, and for any of them, if you choose not to answer it simply omits that piece of information. The absolute bare minimum of information is: your marital status and your star sign. Your star sign!

I mean, really, what the fuck is that about? I can choose to assert my freedom from superstition by proudly identifying myself as an atheist, but the site is still going to make sure people know what cosmic influence I was born under according to a demonstrably false system invented over 3000 years ago by people who didn’t even know what stars and planets were? According to a calendar which isn’t in time with the stars and planets any more anyway?

As you may be able to tell, this makes me geniunely and disproportionately angry. The idea that a lot of people actually take this stuff seriously is enough to make me start physically twitching with my irritation. Though that may also be the five cups of coffee.

5 Comments

  1. 18 March 2007 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    I feel your pain. But MySpace isn’t the only site to do that. Blogger Profiles include astrology, too, as does Zaadz, and probably lots of other social networking sites. Though I’m no longer as opposed to astrology as I once was, it sure does bother me when I’m forced to list my sign. According to people who actually know something about astrology, it’s virtualy irrelevant in any case – they have to know the hour of your birth to be able to come up with anything really helpful, they say.

  2. 19 March 2007 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    I’m a Leo, just in case you were wondering…

    :-)

  3. Harry
    19 March 2007 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Scotty: I always saw you more as a Scorpio.

    Though actually, I can’t even remember what qualities are popularly supposed to be attached to each sign. Except, of course, that Sagittarians rock.

  4. 19 March 2007 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    All down with you both about Myspace’s abominable feng shui and about the inherent fabulousness of Sagittarians. The other batshit thing about Myspace is that the answers have defaults, allowing you to inadvertantly startle your wife and the mother of your children when you set up a new page for yourself and it claims on your behalf and entirely without your input that you hate and never want any children. OKcupid is also stupid enough to ask you to list your sign, but at least it lets you set whether or not you actually care: my profile informs you that I’m a “sagittarius but it doesn’t matter,” for example.

  5. Harry
    19 March 2007 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Well, I’ve circumvented the star sign thing by hiding almost everything on the page. Not the most elegant solution, but never mind. I only actually got a MySpace account so I could look at people’s pictures anyway.

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