Friday, February 26, 2010

The MySpace Cafeteria

I only had a MySpace account for a few weeks, the summer before freshman year of college while I waited for Fordham to send me my e-mail address (back when Facebook still required a college e-mail domain for registration). When I first switched over to Facebook, my immediate reactions were very similar to many of the points Professor Levinson brings up. I thought MySpace was much more customizable, a "one stop social media cafeteria," and found Facebook to be very restrictive in terms of its offerings. I think that is where MySpace and Facebook took divergent paths: MySpace became a place for people to express their individuality through music, blogging and other add-ons, while Facebook became very mainstream.

Both MySpace and Facebook are capable of being sites of unfortunate internet activity like cyberbullying and cyberstalking. While I agree with Professor Levinson that "there is no law or enforcement that can completely protect us from our worst instincts, expressed in new new media, old media or anyplace else," I still think there needs to be a system in place to control harassment through these social media sites. Middle school aged kids think they are adults and to some they may seem like it nowadays, but many still do not have a sense of what is right or wrong. Being slammed into a locker or having your lunch stolen may be "character building" and a part of growing up, but there are always adults to physically intervene in those situations. When cruel messages are put on a kid's MySpace wall every single day, there are not necessarily adults who will pick up on it. As social media becomes part of growing up, educators and parents need to teach kids appropriate behavior and values for both the "real world" and internet.


  1. You make a good point, that these social media are catapulting the youth into situations which they are not protected. Facebook and Myspace and the whole host of sites contain a risk, but if parents are concerned they need to talk to the children about bullying and so on. In reality, there really isn't much we can do. Social media are created to be personal and sometimes that leads to vulnerable situations in which personal attacks occur.

  2. In the PBS documentary we watched, I was really impressed with the segment that demonstrated another country's schools teaching children online ethics. I forget the country, I think it was South Korea, but I could be wrong. Anyways, these children were extremely young, and were singing a song that described the ethics and morals of the Internet. Additionally, they were taught many things to expect from the web, and how they ought to handle themselves as they grow up with it. These, as noted in the documentary, are taught to them while they become acquainted with computers and other technology.
    The point is, I think implementing something similar in America would help the issue you bring up. If we start teaching American children at an early age, how to handle the web in the right way, perhaps there will be fewer problems as they age, and as the web becomes ever more so prevalent in our society.

  3. i think an easy solution would be not friending cyberbullies, or if one is already friends with a cyberbully, remove them as a friend. Why would someone want to be friends, on-line or off, with someone who is going to bully them. However, I do agree with the previous posts that educating young people about new new ethical media issues would be beneficial.

  4. It's not simply a matter of friending and unfriending, as the cyberbully may lull the individual into a false sense of security, or the interaction may take place in a public forum like a group/bulletin board or blog.