The fact that some dork named “Tom” was automatically your first friend when you joined MySpace should have alerted us to the impending terror of it all. At the time, Tom was pitched as the down-and-dirty HTML-coding dude who started the site, and was still hanging around drinking Jolt and writing new code daily to make sure your animated GIFs loaded properly.
This of course was kind of clever and kind of stupid at the same time, because as we all learned later, “Tom” was a sock puppet account created purely to give the site a “connected feeling”. As in “Wow. I’m friends with the OWNER. This place can really connect you fast!” That was the “kind of clever” part. The “kind of stupid” part was the fact that since your animated GIFs never loaded properly, you’d sort of unconsciously resent Tom, if you hadn’t learned to actually hate him already because you learned the dirty secret that he was just a bogus account based on the CEO, who was never going to really be your friend.
Thanks For The Add!
Those are probably the things we all remember most about MySpace – pages that never loaded and were jammed with sparkly animated unicorns when they finally did, and a nagging, slightly disappointed feeling when you realized that all those people were right there with you, and yet somehow so unreachable at the same time. It was as if you had been invited to some huge party, but every time you reached out to shake someone’s hand and introduce yourself, invisible kidnappers hooded you like terror detainees, and led you to some other room. And in that room, you’d find a message on the wall that said “Thanks for the Add, Dude!”
Digital Natives “Go All CrySpace”
There were ways to message people, but they sucked. So you’d distract yourself by trying to customize your page to show all the people you’d never meet how cool you were, and by the time you got the layout to work, you wouldn’t care about connecting with other MySpace people. Which must be why they called it “My” Space. Because you were the only one who cared what you were doing there. This started coming to a head for digital natives around 2006, as they felt the existential tragedy of it all. As college student Gabe Henderson was quoted as saying in this Wired.com piece : “The superficial emptiness clouded the excitement I had once felt….It seems we have lost, to some degree, that special depth that true friendship entails.” Others took a harsher view. This Sean Bonner post on an earlier incarnation of Vox.com got a lot of link love at the time:
The Birth of Internet Celebrity
You have to give the site credit for one thing though: it launched a few celebrities, like Lily Allen, Katy Perry, and Tila Tequila. Granted, a record label, fundamentalist Christian fame, and posing nude may have played a part for those three. But MySpace also brought us one of the first real “internet stars”, Chris Crocker:
So Whatever Happened to Tom?
Apparently, you can find him on Facebook…