MySpace is Bigger Than Your Space
by Patricia Draznin

News Flash: Collecting hundreds of buddies online may not expand your close circle of friends, not even by one. For meaningful relationships, try logging-off and hanging with your friends in person, Dude. So says the blog of researcher Will Reader of York, England, who plans to try this himself.

Mr. Reader surveyed members of Facebook and MySpace, two foremost online communities where scads of strangers exchange airbrushed photos, mating rituals, parole stories, and encounters of virtual alien abductions.

Reader is an evolutionary psychologist, whatever that is. At least that’s who his avatar claims he is on SecondLife.com. His findings? A whopping 90 percent claim that a tight personal bond is only possible through face-to-face contact. At least that’s what they’ve read on Wikipedia.

Apparently, connecting in person allows us to tune into someone’s character—as if we wanted to—from social cues like body language, facial expressions, cheek piercings, ring-around-the-collar, etc. As Reader describes it, “It’s a bit like a dance between two scorpions where one is wondering if the other is going to eat me or sleep with me.” This keen observation inspires us to never make friends with an evolutionary psychologist. Or a scorpion.

Reader’s study, rumored to be funded by the powerful Face-to-Face Friendship lobby that is SO last century, prompted our Oh Zone research team to uncover the other side of the story, even if we had to make it up. Our findings? A very whopping 91 percent claim that real meaningful relationships are overrated, and low-maintenance virtual friends are the way to go.

“Meeting friends in person eats up valuable time,” says Friendster member LoisLane39 from Hackensack, New Jersey, “time I could be spending on YouTube.”

Many network enthusiasts appreciate the anonymity, the distance, the chance to be all you can’t be. Says TalladegaTommy of Ernie, Montana, “My sister’s profile on MySpace says “hot and fun,” but in person she’s neither. She found her soul mate on SugarDaddy.com but the guy wanted to meet her offline. Now she has a crush on BadBoySkyDiver, but he probably isn’t a skydiver, or bad, or even a boy. Not that it matters.”

Others were surprised to learn there was such a thing as face-to-face relationships. “I do face-time with my little brother during downloads and de-frags,” says LordVoldemort877, a home-schooled eighth-grader with 7,563 network friends, who responded by iPhone. “But we always keep it short and shallow.”

And finally, a few subjects were surprised to learn that Will Reader was conducting a study. “No wonder he posted so many questions,” said Paulie_Walnuts93. “I thought he was just an aggressive networker.”

The message? Virtual is the new real. Virtual means never having to leave your PC. Virtual means never having to confront a human without the aid of Photoshop. Virtual means never having to say you’re sorry. (You just have to type it.)

I have to go now; I’m Maid of Honor at a text-message wedding. Maybe I’ll clean my keypad.

Copyright 2007 Patricia Draznin


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