The Politics Of MySpace (Or What Social Networks Are Really About)

What if we’re wrong?

What if comic book legend Neal Adams is right and the Earth is growing?

We spend a lot of time defending the past.

And assume things about the future that may not be true.

One of the things a lot of new media people believe is that folks join social networks to meet more people.

That we all want to connect.

That we are adding friends like crazy.

But wait a minute.

We only talk to four people on our cell phones.

Are we really IM’ing all of our MySpace friends?

Do you really communicate with more people now or do you just communicate with some of your old friends less?

Maybe as things get more marginal so does our communication.

Maybe all the kids on MySpace aren’t looking for more friends

Maybe they are just looking for one.

Explore posts in the same categories: cell phones, connect, friends, future, MySpace, Neal Adams, new media, past, Superman, war

68 Comments on “The Politics Of MySpace (Or What Social Networks Are Really About)”

  1. Lisa Franks Says:

    Let me be the first to say that you hit this one out of the park. The rise of social networks increases as people feel more lonely and lost.

    And I love the fact you ended it with the Muslim girl. Beautiful!

  2. Michiko Says:

    That’s a very interesting insight. Maybe we are subsconsciously aware about the growing number of people populating the earth and that we also subsconsciously paranoid about not finding The One. Thus, the birth of networking–or the so-called virtual socializing: from MySpace, Friendster, LJs, blogs like this, instant messaging to online gaming.

  3. chartreuse Says:

    taking a break was good for my brain. glad you like it.

  4. r Says:

    I’ve been wondering how to go about actually having meaningful contact with a large group of people via a social network.

    I get the common interests/objectives filtering but even still are we having real dialogue or just being digital billboards (hopefully advertising ourselves) via these social networks?

    Can we really ever be friends with everyone who signed our yearbook?

  5. Matt Says:

    My best friend I have known since I was 4.

    There is nothing that I wouldn’t do for him.


  6. timethief Says:

    What an wonderfully insightful and poignant post. My very best friends are those I hold in my heart and love in a very close up and personal way. Like Matt I would do anything for them. This intimacy I share with them cannot be rivaled by or replaced with relationships merely established within a social network in cyber space. It can’t because what “best” for me is based on is intimacy and I cannot be achieve that kind of intense and immediate connectedness without a foundation built upon face to face, heart to heart and hand to hand contact.

  7. David Krug Says:

    Good Stuff. You hit this one on the head.

  8. vcmike Says:

    Just checking out the new “Tagsurfing” feature this morning; came across a bunch of posts on the same old boring stuff I blog about. Then came to this. Great, insightful questions raised in an artistic, poetc way. I don’t know who you are but I am adding you to my blogroll!

  9. Michiko Says:

    Same here. This just proves that Tag Surfer kinda helps. Looking forward to more blog-worthy entries from you. *saluets*

  10. […] The jewel for me, though, was finding a beautifully done post, integrating some really thoughtful questions regarding the MySpace generation with a really tastefully selected collage of photos. […]

  11. […] I was tagsurfing and found The Politics of MySpace (Or What Social Networks are Really About) by Chartreuse (BETA).  […]

  12. Your post is brilliant. I find that even though I have all of these friends on MySpace that I don’t really ever have time to talk to most of them. I’ve tried to make a better effort at doing so in recent months, but our need for instant gratification has led me to talk more to the people that are immediately around me. MySpace did help me make the transition from one city to another, and it helps me keep up with what some people are doing better than I was doing before. This leads to the hundreds of friends that some people have. That said, I’ve found it very hard to make new friends or to find time to talk to an old one very often.
    One thing I have noticed and written about has been the use of MySpace by businesses and groups to reach out and touch those they already know and possibly hook a few more people. That’s been the most interesting thing about the social network phenomenon so far. It’ll be interesting to see if TagWorld or Friendster can capitalize on simply looking for friends instead of becoming all things to all people, though they have already tried to emulate rather than blaze a trail of their own.
    Again, great post!

  13. Time to do an IPO – researching it 🙂

  14. SilverThorn Says:

    Hopefully we still have the same accounts around 10 years or so from now so when it is reunion time, it’ll be easier to find everyone. 🙂 Then again, I really never befriended anyone in my graduating class to the point I would want to see them then. I live on the other side of the country far from them…:) Why return and meet up and have to remember 4 years of hs life that you think was nothing more than bullshit? 😀

  15. range Says:

    I have to say that I have some contact through new media, but I don’t use social networks. I like my friends in real life and enjoy their company. Back in 1996 when chatting and IM was all the rage, I was into it. But later on, I found that all that didn’t really have a purpose. I already spend too much time in front of the computer, why stay there even more networking with people that I most likely will never meet. Which is why likeminding is great. You get to meet the people with whom you interact.

    Software like Second Life will just make people more lonely and detached and will create a new generation of otaku.

  16. Billy Sunday Says:

    Sharp as a tack, especially since the term ‘keep in touch’ has so little to do with actual contact.

  17. nightninja56 Says:

    it does seem that, on these social networks, our lives grow smaller while we thought they would grow bigger

    thoughts to ponder

  18. candice Says:

    range: Will create? Stuff like everquest and ultima online and world of warcraft and all those has already. An ex of mine found himself in a strip club talking to a dancer who was an everquest addict, like, three years ago. I had a roommate addicted to the stuff back in 2001.

  19. bryteline Says:

    i like what you’re doing here. very cool post.

  20. Benjamin Says:

    You said what a lot of people have obviously been thinking. I’ve never joined myspace, and don’t plan on it. I’ve however watched many of my friends faces stuck to the screen while surfing through 100’s of profiles a day.

  21. cinders Says:

    Stunning photos.

  22. disembedded Says:

    Perhaps many have not yet developed the capacity to be alone, but instead always experience that as loneliness. Solitude, then, loses its potential to be both creative and hopeful. And the loss of hopefulness, perhaps, can lead to a frenzied search for another who will provide that hope. The sought-after other then becomes reified or overidealized, thus always failing us. A wise woman once said to me, “If you maintain one true friendship throughout life, count yourself as lucky.”

  23. Liz Strauss Says:

    We join a social network, but we don’t socialize. We sit to watch what others do with their friends. We are lurking there too. We are becoming separated into those who do and those who watch, those who have ideas and those who consume them . . . we are virtually more together and more apart at the same time.

  24. […] Chartreuse on the politics of MySpace . […]

  25. Ankit Says:

    Good post, though I disagree with one thing that people are joining social networks to find the one.

    One of the great features of social networks is the power it gives to your voice. If you are talking sense, you will get heard, and people will flock you. People are not looking for one, but for fun, they get to hang out with new guys, girls and whatever.

    Your pervious posts about preople gravitating more towards tribes which practice their own interests is more of the reason why people are getting attracted towards social networks.

  26. lazyleo Says:

    Hey you have a wonderful blog,

    I wanted to ask you something can you contact me by email?

  27. ederic Says:

    you have a point there. in our efforts to gain more “friends”, we may be forgetting the old ones, especially those who are not yet “connected”.

  28. Let the People Tell the Story: An Interview with Citizen Journalist Travis Campbell…

    Two weeks ago, the blogger Chartreuse announced Team New Orleans, a group of site-sponsored citizen journalists who will report on the Gulf Coast reconstruction.  Mishikea Brathwait, Travis Campbell, Loren Feldman, and Candice Quates were selected…

  29. Sindhu Says:

    lovely post! i agree, social networking has grown more than our frnds circle. from personal experience these rings are purely based on profiles/pictures. do we really know who we want to be frnds with???
    we are jus swept away with cute proverbs /excepts that are copy pasted into profiles and those unknown pictures….identity thy name superficial on the net, these social networking sites have jus given that phenonmenon a new meaning and taken it to a new height of dumbness.

  30. […] chartreuse (BETA) is often a very insightful blog. “Char” is a pretty sharp guy with short, smart posts about the “new media”. Today he explores the MySpace phenom and suggests that maybe we aren’t looking for hundreds of friends and people to connect to: “Maybe all the kids on MySpace aren’t looking for more friends … Maybe they are just looking for one” (emphasis his). I agree if he were to mean I’m looking for “the one”. As in, the one that brings the best out of me. The one who best compliments me, shares my values, helps me succeed, understands my values. I have a lot of jobs because I’m looking for “the one” and I won’t find it without looking around. The same applies here. I have a large network of friends. I’d like to get to know them all a lot better but I’m really looking to bring “the one” into my inner circle. The best part: “the one” isn’t a quantity, it’s a quality. […]

  31. […] looking around for something intersting to say, i kept jumping from one link to another in seach and i think i found food for today: Politics of My Space. A really meaningful photoblog with out of the box posts. […]

  32. mudphudhendi Says:

    i definitely agree…plus i have some other ideas about the new tech savvy young generation. i wrote about this stuff, particularly on friendster, a little while back. i think these networking sites give people excuses to learn actual social skills. it’s a problem when “LOL” enters colloquial english in place of a simple laugh…

  33. […] Having written this, it was rather disappointing to discover someone else had already said it better. If you want an intelligent article on the subject, you could do worse than reading Autistic Social Software. *My mate assures you that this is really what happens. He was also curious to find out that there were in fact questions asked frequently about bulgarian society and culture. […]

  34. Mike Says:

    Excellent post. I didn’t know that bloggers actually thought about what they wrote before they wrote it.

    “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell points out that the human mind can only really maintain “relationships” with around 151 people, and only a very tiny portion of that would we consider “close” relationships. Personally, I have about 8 close friends. I’d guess that those with 500,000 “friends” on myspace probably feel the same way.

    I think it’s important to remember that your computer (and the internet) is a TOOL, not a place. Otherwise, you’ll be laying on your death bed, IMing your 8 best cyber-buddies instructions on how to distribute your “Second Life” real-estate portfolio.

  35. Glorious.

    I think people like the illusion of friends nowadays. Like, “hey, look at me, all these people added me on MySpace, I must be worth something.” But, at the same time, connecting to people on a personal basis frightens us. I’m not sure why that is.

    Gorgeous pictoral landscape, by the way. Is the girl in the last picture Muslim? She could also be Jewish, or Hindu, or even Christian Orthodox. 🙂 I’ve seen women in my old church wear scarves like that.

  36. Nice and true. I began blogging to keep in touch with friends from high school as we moved on to college and jobs. It was a great way to make those little comments we would have made about daily tales and stories if we had been right next to them, living it with them.

    People have slowed down in the past 3 years with posting, but I still credit blogging for keeping me connected to people I probably wouldn’t have any clue about what they’re doing these days.

  37. J. Says:

    Maybe it’s just one way posting.
    Maybe people just want them to hear them.

    Very cool by the way.



  38. Wow. What a really excellent and thought provoking post! Keep up the good work!


  39. IT’s sad how true this post is. are we really blogging to feel more connected with the world, or are we just blogging to stay in our own space?

  40. dljournal Says:

    The Associated Press had an article about that:

    People are having more friends in general, but fewer close friends. They also seem to communicate to their friends more through the ease of technology than in person.

  41. Joe Says:

    Another site for networking. Photo storage and sharing site I found recently

  42. Kelly Says:

    I think that its a way for people to connect with the same people they would ordinarily but on a much more geographically larger scale. No longer is distance a factor since practically anywhere you end up moving has internet capabilities. This makes it much easier to connect people with each other, job opportunities, potential soulmates, etc.

  43. MySpacers are looking for one all right. One big recording contract, one big rich gentleman with super sex drive and tolerable face, or one easy lay any way you wanna slice it.

    Ouch. I just chopped my other head off.

  44. Timothy Wong Says:

    Social networking sites just drive me mad. All they do is send you email after email. No it’s ok, I don’t want a new friend. 🙂

  45. […] Chartreuse talks about Myspace and misses the boat. We latch on to an idea and we can’t let go. Happens to everyone. […]

  46. […] MySpace now has an Australian landing page.  Chartreuse has some good food for thoughts on why people use MySpace. […]

  47. DudeAsInCool Says:

    People in general don’t know their own neighbors these days. I think that has more to do with the fact that people are more mobile, online and offline. I’m kind of an abberation in that respect–i know my neighbors–i still keep in touch wiith my high school friends, college and graduate school friends–and i have met and kept a lot of real friends online.

  48. […] Chartreuse has some interesting thoughts on what social networks are all about: the increase in technology in our world, but a yearning for that connectedness in relationship. […]

  49. […] The same goes for communication.  We now have tools like text messaging, photoblogs, and MySpace profiles, but we also have new languages to speak in.  Chartreuse (beta) is a perfect example of such a new language. […]

  50. sniper Says:

    im a member on my space and i tihnk the politics are a good idea to do and just try not to get yoourself addicted to it

  51. John Says:

    Lol have you seen this Myspace Friend Adder thing

  52. james Says:

    i’d say blogging is basically a result of curiosity. the availability of the medium makes the possibilities in it probable. reading blogging from a psychoanalytic point of view is often for those who normally translate their experiences as subconscious tendencies, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to the politics of social network through new media, for we must note that even before the internet, people have had the tendency to reach out by whatever medium available. some even just do the same thing because it has become a fad. blogging, social networking (through the internet) and the likes, are merely manifestations of how a communication medium can change the social sphere. philosophical interpretations like searching for the one or the many are only manifestations of how the medium was able to change the person and the social sphere; it is not the cause.

  53. This would actually be an interesting study a research group could do. This fits exactly into the type of studies college studies partake in. If you can narrow 100M MySpace users into 5 or 10 different categories, based off behavior, that would be very very interesting.

  54. […] The Politics Of MySpace (Or What Social Networks Are Really About) « chartreuse (BETA) This is a really interesting, different way of looking at MySpace and social networking’s effect on people. (tags: Myspace social-networking research thesis) […]

  55. spyware Says:

    Hi, what a great blog you have here.

  56. […] I think this company will do well. People will enter their information out of the pure joy of having another place they can crosslink themselves in a big bubble of socialization (or perhaps it is as chartreuse says and they are all looking for one friend). […]

  57. mrskin Says:

    Thanks a bunch for the info! 🙂

  58. […] I’ve found this great post on another blog earlier and I thought I’d share it with you all. […]

  59. hotconflict Says:

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  60. […] MySpace now has an Australian landing page. Chartreuse has some good food for thoughts on why people use MySpace. […]

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