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Friends no more 

An open letter to my 105 MySpace friends and Tom

Dear "friends":

It's been almost three years since I found my place on the Internet, an address to post pictures of myself for strangers, keep track of long-distance friends, and act on my own voyeuristic urges: MySpace. It's free, easy to use, and entertaining, but lately, I've begun to wonder, is MySpace evil?

Admittedly, when I first signed on, I was smitten. I set out to collect as many "friends" as possible, so I looked at what other people on the site were doing and posted several pictures of myself beer bonging--then falling over, getting tarted up for a night out with "my girls," and generally embarrassing myself. Requests came pouring in.

For those of you who've been living in the Dark Ages, MySpace is a social networking site. Essentially, it gives users their own webpage to personalize and manage by posting pictures, blogging, adding music, and checking out other people's pages. Members of the online community collect "friends," meaning that their pages are linked, and members can browse friends' friends' pages, basically hopping from site to site.

I don't worry too often about evil, which is why I stayed on MySpace when Rupert Murdoch, Australian media mogul and owner of the infamous FOX News, purchased the site in 2005--though I still feel slighted that he never asked to be my friend. But more recently, evil has shown its ugly face, through advertising and policy, and I've decided to leave MySpace.

It all seemed like a good idea. Rather than carry on real, personal relationships and conversations with people, everyone could just fill out fun surveys and post information about yourself. For example, I am a 20-something-year-old back-up dancer for Britney Spears, making upwards of half a million a year. Other interests include communicating telepathically, drinking till I pass out, and playing with dogs.

The company explicitly warns against posting embarrassing information, because anyone--including employers--can view your site. Subsequently, the question has been asked: What consequences await a generation that displays its most classless and banal moments like a badge of honor? The answer is a resounding "Who cares?"

As it turns out, your boss probably has a MySpace page--full of embarrassing information--and so does my mom, which just proves that it's not that cool. And I don't know what my boss would do if he found out I was a member of the Mary Kate and Ashley fan club, but I do know what MySpace does with the info, and it scares me a lot more.

According to the terms of use, MySpace "collects" personal information, including--but not limited to--age, gender, occupation, personal interests, and education. All to better serve.

Clearly, the best way to serve is by selling ads to third parties based on this personal information. I guess nothing's free, and it's less obnoxious than the Viagra spam that floods my e-mail, but it's creepy!

It's not just your personal info that helps MySpace get to know ya better. The site also logs your IP address--that's like your computer's ID. So while you're logged on, they keep track of every other site you visit, which is funny, because my MySpace purpose has digressed so much that I only log on to see which kids from high school got fat. And to post more pictures of myself doing keg stands.

If MySpace deemed anything I posted to be offensive--sexually, morally, or otherwise--administrators are at liberty to pull it from the site without explanation, according to the terms of use. It makes me feel safer knowing that Big Brother Rupert is looking out for my decency, even if it hasn't stopped online predators from meeting other young girls.

I'm getting a little teary now, having second thoughts about deleting my profile. It's been really fun. I do feel much closer to my 105 friends--especially the ones I've never met in person--but I still think that saying goodbye is for the best.

I bid you adieu, mes bon amis de l'Internet. See you on Facebook!

Staff Writer Kylie Mendonca is low tech. Send letters to K Mendonca care of New Times at 1010 Marsh St., SLO, CA, 93401.

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