I have a MySpace, though I'm not a huge fan of the site. (But add me as a friend, readers!) It is basically unavoidable for an aspiring stand-up comedian such as myself to have a MySpace, and at least one person has found my gig via MySpace.
However, I feel that MySpace is poorly equipped to deliver news of personal tragedy. One of my distant friends from college committed suicide in the past year, and I found out via a one-line MySpace message. In MyFriend's defense, he had heard the news via AOL Instant Messenger, so relaying it through MySpace was not a ridiculous choice. Still, it was jarring to find, among seven bands asking me to check out their new album and three girls who might be prostitutes attempting to befriend me, a message that said, "[Friend] shot himself."
Because the message was so brief, I didn't believe it at first. I thought it might be an elaborate joke, or a much simpler joke in elaborately poor taste. I Googled my friend's name, trying to find an obituary or a news story about the tragedy and hoping I couldn't. There was nothing. Ultimately, my confirmation came from messages of condolence on my friend's MySpace. Now, nearly a year later, his page is still there, along with MySpace blogs detailing his affection for heroin and explanations of how anyone who dissed heroin addiction was no longer his friend. Most messages were about how much they missed our friend and how he was totally in heaven now, though one, months after his death, requested that our friend teach her to blow smoke rings.
In case you're wondering, the hierarchy of tributes to a dead friend goes like this:
145. MySpace comment
This callous treatment of a tragedy is not unique for MySpace. Another friend set up a page for our high school acquaintance who was sick with a mysterious disease that led to multiple organ transplants and a month-long coma. The page was intended to serve as a space for updates on the guy's medical conditions and for fundraising efforts for his family, as well as a spot for people to say, "Hey buddy, get well". But, being MySpace, it only took two days before the page was full of flashing text, animated .gifs, and embedded videos. My favorite message was one telling our comatose friend, "Dude, Welcome 2 MySpace" in a flashing, glittery font.
I don't have a suggestion, or a sophisticated take on the situation, but it is simply bizarre that I hear about a suicide or a colon transplant in the same way I normally hear about Arj Barker's newest CD release or my sister's roommate's "totally honest sex survey, 4 reals". Just this week, I thought of my dead friend again. Not because of a story, or a work of art, but because I got an automatic birthday reminder from MySpace. Thanks for making me cry, MySpace. Jerks.