Not Mygeneration

Augustine Marinelli

A few weeks back, the headline of the “Philadelphia Weekly” featured a group of tragically hip 20-somethings on its cover and proudly proclaimed them to be part of the so-called “Myspace Generation.” I did not read the article because I was slightly offended that I was being conscripted into something called the “Myspace Generation.” For those lucky few that don’t know, Myspace is an “online community” that allows the coveted 13-30 demographic to engage in the self-obsessed narcissism that seems to plague post-Cold War, postmodern, post-Sept. 11 American society (I think three intelligent-sounding “post” phrases are enough here).

In other words, this is where one goes to complain about your parents’ lack of financial generosity, an angst-addled existence in an affluent suburb, teen love and all other things trivial. Other groups of like-minded friends will comment on these ramblings and the cycle perpetuates itself.

And for those of you who will tell me that Myspace has practical uses like keeping in touch with distant friends, promoting your band and pursuing sexual liaisons, I will simply reply that I am a college newspaper opinion writer. Therefore, I am duty-bound to engage in generalizations that are supposed to imply collective guilt. Don’t worry though, I’ll be creative and refrain from using the pronoun “we” while doing so.

Myspace, like its Harvard-born cousin Facebook, is an echo chamber for narcissistic adolescents, college kids and 20-somethings. These people go online and post information that their friends can view and comment on. (full disclosure: I was on Facebook until I realized all of these things).

Would it not stand to reason that, by definition, a friend should already know about and be commenting on all these things in person?

So in addition to feeding self-obsession, Myspace is creating a group of anti-social computer jockeys. I guess the computer-induced lethargy makes it easier for the Internet pedophiles that prowl Myspace to find semi-stationary targets. Yes, that good looking 22-year-old blonde who lives around the corner who just became your Myspace friend could very well be a 44-year-old sex offender who is looking up your street address while filing off that pesky monitoring bracelet on his ankle.

This is common enough to warrant the creation of units in many local police departments that are charged with cruising Myspace to weed out the Mark Foleys of cyberspace.

Why are things like this? What compels people my age to post all sorts of personal information in public for consumption by friends, Rupert Murdoch’s marketing researchers and Internet pedophiles? I am statistically part of a generation that likes to air its dirty laundry.

From having graphic conversations on cell phones in public to letting anywhere from one-third to one-half of their posteriors ooze over the tops of their pants at any given time, the 13-30 demographic certainly isn’t shy (unfortunately). What’s a guy like me to do but attempt to opt out? And I try…

Unfortunately, there is no escaping guilt by association. Over the summer, I was at my favorite seedy “Blues and BBQ” place back home enjoying some music when a middle-aged man hopped up on one-dollar beer stumbled my way and sat down at my table.

After exchanging pleasantries, he asked my friend and me how old we were. When we responded that we were college-aged, he spat out these words: “Argh! I bet you both have Myspace accounts!” My emphatic “Hell no!” was enough to convince him otherwise. He gave me an intoxicated nod of approval and then proceeded to give us important advice on things like how to sneak appliances out the back door of your place of work and how to smoke marijuana properly.

So here I am: I can’t elude the Myspace label, but I won’t wear it. And what does my refusal win me?

The grudging respect of boozy middle-aged men that live for one-dollar-beer-night. It certainly doesn’t win me the adoration of beautiful women, the respect of the literati, nor anything else worth mentioning.

Perhaps it permits me to keep my dignity. But how much is dignity worth when I’m alone with my honor and none else cares?