If you walk through the second floor of the Millar Library, where the water tastes like pennies, and peer over a couple of shoulders, you’ll notice that half of the library patrons are frustrated, and they’re all on the same web site.
And if you listen closely you’ll hear them yell, in a whisper, "W.T.F.?"
On the first floor, where the stagnant air smells like french fries and there’s less personal space, if you listen closer, you’ll hear the same exasperated whisper-cries.
Over the past week, all across campus and, indeed, all across the country, these worried ones and their real-life friends climbed out of MySpace to discuss its most troubling and worrisome, though charming and delightful, new feature: “the Top 8. “
They pretended to meet for dinner, or perhaps a beer, and yet, whatever the original purpose of their meeting had been, it had now become their friends’ placement at a certain "place for friends."
Sentences began and then trailed away: "I always hated that it was chronological, so I wanted to choose the order myself. But now, I mean, this is just…" A new MySpace honesty emerged. Some admitted they had spent 23 minutes arranging their 67 friends, only to realize, in the 24th minute, that they could rearrange only the first eight. Roaring LOLs ensued.
Before this new addition friends would admit meeting new people in the real world and asking, "So, are you on MySpace?" They would confess to taking pictures of themselves, camera-phone style, hoping for potential profile pics.
It had been fashionably dork-like to admit a MySpace addiction before quickly and quietly adding, "I mean, but I’m not really on there that much anymore," and sending a cautious laugh through lying teeth.
Some would admit that part of that addiction comes from having the ability to get up close to others – unseen, as though draped with some invisibility cloak – and study their features, read their thoughts, and pick through their friends list. The ability to do detective work on potential friends, to preview the sort of comments they would leave, to know exactly what you’re getting, was an admitted addiction.
What all of this means had generally been left unsaid: other people have the same abilities, and do the same things. This only adds to the pressure and almost compulsory vanity that comes with popularity being measured in profile views, and the horror of, at all times, secretly knowing exactly how popular you are. That blog views are a measure of the popularity of one’s mind, and that there’s a fair amount of pressure involved in trying to attract and maintain blog subscribers, had been stated even less often. And, like a large woman – naked, with purple ribbons in her hair, a Cigarillo in one hand and a baton in the other – riding on an elephant dancing on your back, that pressure is enormous.
All parties had agreed to pretend that comments left on a friend’s page are always intended for that friend, and are not left as clever invitations to their friends to gaze at and admire your own incredible wit and hilarity. And to, quite possibly, earn a friend request or two.
Before the new MySpace honesty, for anyone with more than eight real-life friends, the “Top 8” had posed a challenge: “Should I wait to see what others do, hope I make it to neither more nor less than eight friends’ lists, and then reciprocate? Should I do nothing? Should I include people I actually know, or people I don’t know but actually like?”
Most people worried that friends would be offended if they didn’t make the Top 8. They thought of posting a bulletin explaining their dilemma: "Don’t worry! I’m gonna rotate you guys! You can’t all be Top 8 at once!" Then they worried that friends would say, "What are you talking about? I couldn’t care less and didn’t even notice." They worried that friends wouldn’t be offended, because they didn’t care. Then they worried that they would. And so it went.
And so it goes. The new MySpace honesty passed within the week. The Top 8 has preoccupied the author of this article so much that he’s been unable to get to the store. For dinner last night he drank Trader Giotto’s Organic Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms.
But just as a terrible song embedded in a hilarious comment becomes a good friend’s own personal theme, bad can become good. That dinner was delicious. And so it is with the MySpace Top 8. True feelings come out. You get to know your place. And your friends will know theirs. You don’t need more than eight friends, anyway. All is as it should be.