'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
‘MY SPACE’ SHOULD BE PRIVATE SPACE
I’m sure you are familiar with the Internet phenomenon known as MySpace.com. That is, I’m sure you are familiar with it if you happen to be a teenager. On the other hand, if you are an “old fogy”—someone who is a decrepit, over-the-hill geezer, older than, say, age 22—then maybe you have not heard about it.
MySpace.com is an Internet site where kids create their own individual web pages, complete with photos, personal information, and whatever happens to be on their minds at the moment (usually: nothing). Currently there are 70 million registered users of MySpace.com, four of whom have real jobs. The other 69,999,996 are technically students in high school or middle school, but their true vocation in life, at least at this point in time, is “cyber exhibitionist.”
MySpace.com has been in the news a lot lately. Sexual predators have used the site to arrange meetings with underage girls, including a 27-year-old man recently caught with a 13-year-old girl in a motel room here in Connecticut. Schools around the country are suspending students for mocking their teachers online. High school students in Kansas allegedly planned to go on a school shooting rampage on the anniversary of the Columbine Massacre, but were thwarted when law enforcement officials learned that one of the students bragged about it on his MySpace page.
MySpace.com could easily be called ScreamingForAttention.com. The website has quickly become the online version of The Jerry Springer Show. Otherwise sane and normal kids suddenly conclude that the world is desperately waiting for their provocative photographs, obscene fantasies, and threats of violence.
The problem is, all teenagers have an instinctive desire to show off and do goofy things in the presence of their friends. While enduring a boring lecture in the back row of an 8th grade classroom, who hasn’t inserted a couple of No. 2 pencils into his nostrils and waited patiently for the other kids to notice? (What do you mean you never did that? The pencils-in-the-nose trick is an all-time classic. Prehistoric cave drawings show young Neanderthals doing the exact thing, except instead of No. 2 pencils they had wildebeest rib bones dangling from their nostrils. Also, I’ll have you know that 36 years removed from the 8th grade, this gag still gets a laugh during boring quarterly budget meetings.)
When kids post goofy stuff on their MySpace page, they are really doing it for a handful of their friends. Or if they are girls posting somewhat alluring snapshots of themselves, they are doing it in the hope that Cute Kevin in math class will see it.
Unfortunately, MySpace.com is not confined to the back row of a classroom. It reaches around the globe and is available to countless millions of people. And unlike a goofy antic in the classroom, which occurs and then quickly exists only in the memory of the observers (one of whom hopefully is not the teacher), stuff that is posted on MySpace is being stored forever on computer servers.
Mark my words, I predict that someone running for public office in the year 2036 will be forced to withdraw from the race when embarrassing comments and photos surface, comments and photos that were posted on MySpace.com during 2006.
So take my advice, kids. When you put those photographs on your MySpace site, Cute Kevin may or may not see them. But be assured that Creepy Carl, and thousands of other perverts like him, will definitely see those pictures. Trust me, Creepy Carl is not satisfied with the ol’ pencils-in-the-nose trick. He gets his jollies in much more sinister ways.
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