‘The devil’ in cyberspace
EAGLE-VAIL – “It’s the devil. You get sucked into it. I’ve seen it happen,” shouted high school student Ben Sack over the noisy Battle Mountain halls.Sack’s not talking about drugs. He’s not talking about alcohol. The latest trend in high schools is MySpace.MySpace is an online social network that allows people to interact through Web profiles. On it, people can “befriend” other MySpace members and join MySpace groups, like “Battle Mountain Husky Hockey” and “Vail Partyers.”Members can also post messages on their friends’ pages and comment on the pictures they’ve posted. And they do. Frequently. MySpace reportedly gets more hits than Google.Battle Mountain senior Ranae Crouch logs onto MySpace three or four times a day and has more than 250 MySpace friends, she said. Her profile, which has a psychedelic background, displays a picture of her and some information about her (she loves Vanilla Coke and wants to be a Christian singer).
Her page also includes countless surveys, like “Which celebrity beauty are you?” (she’s Jessica Simpson) and “Which clothing store are you?” (she’s Abercrombie & Fitch).Crouch said her family has moved a lot. She’s lived in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Colorado, several times. MySpace helps her keep in touch with friends in other areas, she said.”It’s cool. Recently, I’ve connected with old friends, and we catch up,” Crouch said.To find her old friend, Crouch searches MySpace members. When MySpace finds her friends’ profiles, which it always does since “everyone’s on it,” Crouch can add them to her long list of MySpace friends. Once they accept her as a friend, the communication can begin. If they don’t accept her as a friend, she can still send them private MySpace messages that are like e-mails.Protecting a profile
MySpace users, typically ranging from 14 to 35 years old, are constantly logging on to see if they have new comments or messages to read.”Some people are really pathetic. They go on and check their messages every day,” said 15-year-old MySpace member Briton Bock, who lives in Avon. “Some people are really intense. Some people go all out with backgrounds and quizzes. I’m not going to take the time to do that.”Fifteen-year-old Heidi Sorensen, who checks her MySpace page every day at school, was surprised when she recently received a message from a stranger in Germany, she said.”He said he wanted to know what Colorado was like. He just messaged me, no big deal. I probably won’t message him back,” Sorensen said.Corcoran made her page “private,” so only her MySpace friends can see her information, she said.”I don’t want random people to look at my profile,” she said.
Although some people include their phone numbers, addresses and e-mail addresses on their pages, most Battle Mountain students said they were uncomfortable exposing too much information.The only contact information Crouch has on her page is her AIM screenname.”People can look at your page. There’s crazy people out there. You just have to be mature enough to know what should be private information and what’s not,” Crouch said. “If someone sends me an AIM message, I can always block them,”Crouch’s parents know she uses MySpace, but they don’t interfere, she said.”I’m almost 18,” she said. “Plus, I’m not going to be talking to creepies.”Crouch has only befriended one stranger on MySpace, a girl who has the same first and last name, she said.
“She’s around my age, and I’ve never met anyone with the name and same spelling so that was kind of cool,” Crouch said.Only cyber-friendsBattle Mountain sophomore Jose Pavon erased his MySpace page shortly after opening it.”People can see your info, even stuff you’re writing to someone else. I’ve heard some stories that make me nervous,” Pavon said. “I think MySpace should be canceled. It’s not safe.”Pavon said MySpace is the perfect tool for stalkers.
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TJ Simpson said he likes MySpace because he can get to know his classmates better by looking at their profiles.”I don’t spend a lot of time on it, but it’s got a positive effect at school,” said Simpson, who logs on every other day.Most Battle Mountain students agree that being “friends” with someone on MySpace doesn’t mean anything outside of cyberspace.”Nobody talks about MySpace in the halls,” Sorensen said. “You might be friends on MySpace, but that doesn’t mean anything in person.”Vail, Colorado