Getting in touch with your inner

| 29 Sep 2011 | 09:03

Milford - The social networking site makes it so now that people don’t even have to leave their homes to make friends. In May, was the eighth most-visited Web site on the Internet, with 43.5 million hits, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, a media-research company. In all, 92 million members worldwide call MySpace home. The popular Web site allows users to post personal information, pictures, blogs and invite and accept users to be their friends. When searching for users in a five-mile radius of Milford’s 18337 zip code, a total of 834 users were found. The site is not without controversy. But in interviews, many users will tell you those incidents of sexual predators - while serious - are the exceptions. For instance, a 20-year-old female user from Milford said she uses MySpace to keep in touch with friends she has all over the world, and that she doesn’t add anyone she doesn’t know. One user who just moved into Pike County credited MySpace as her “savior” because it allowed her to keep in touch with her friends back in Staten Island. And one 19-year-old male user from Milford said he uses MySpace to keep in touch with people as well. “I talk to people, get to know new bands, and a lot of my ATV and MX racers have it and it gives me a chance to talk to them,” he said. Those exceptions Controversy about the Web site’s accessibility to pedophiles and sex offenders has given the site regional and national coverage. • In January, a 14-year-old girl from Roselle, N.J., was found strangled in a dumpster in a park in Newark. Police searched her computer after her friends reported that she told them of a man in his 20’s that she had met on MySpace. • This past spring, in Goshen, N.Y., a 14-year-old girl got into the car of a 21-year-old man she had met on MySpace. He was charged with sexually assaulting her. • And recently, a 16-year-old girl from Michigan tricked her parents into getting her a passport and flew to the Middle East to meet a man she had met on MySpace. However, the most controversial issue about MySpace is who’s to blame for these incidents. Many users are angered by the fact that MySpace is gaining a reputation as a dangerous site that is filled with pedophiles and sexual predators. “I feel bad for the inventors because of the bad publicity that it’s been getting,” said a 20-year-old female MySpace user from Milford. “The people who are stalkers should be to blame and the young 12-year-olds who keep saying they’re older and taking provocative pictures of themselves. There is no way for the owners to sense who is going to do wrong, and he deletes people every day for vulgar pictures and nasty comments.” One 18-year-old male user from Stanhope, N.J., said MySpace just expanded the use of e-mail and postings, allowing for localized message boards, selected viewings and more personal profiles. “Parents should teach their children what the Internet is and how it is to be used,” he said. “The same can be said for all media, as well as television, music and video games. It is not the place of the parent to complain of the evils of the world all the while sitting back and not explaining to their children what it all means.” A place to grieve One of the main functions of the site is to allow communication between users and give users an area to decorate and express themselves. A user from Milford pointed out the link to the MySpace page of one of the young girls from Port Jervis, N.Y., who died June 2 in an accident on Interstate 84 close to the New York-Pennsylvania border. Her page was filled with hundreds of comments from her friends and peers stating how much they love and miss her. One comment read: “I know you’re looking down on all of us in a place where you feel no pain.” Another asked: “Why did this happen to you of all people?” “I think her page shows just how powerful of a tool MySpace is,” said the user who sent the link. What radio used to be Many local bands and musicians have taken advantage of the open forum MySpace offers as a way to advertise their music, broaden their fan base and list shows. Members use the MySpace music page to find upcoming songs for mainstream bands and also to find out about local or unknown bands. “This site is amazing for finding uncharted groups,” a 21-year-old male user from Milford said. “I’ve found a whole truckload of them myself that I could not have found anywhere else, and it’s fun viewing other people’s profiles just to see what type of music they like, or what new band they’ve found.” Another user takes advantage of the MySpace music page because it allows users to want to purchase music because they like the band’s music and not because of advertising. “MySpace’s music spaces, coupled with affordable, quality audio technology, has begun to put the major music industry in a tough position,” said one 19-year-old male Milford user. “Regional, independent bands become more appealing to the rising underground because live performances, not music videos or sexually appealing dancers, are selling their CDs.” The same user also said that film, book and television industries can benefit from MySpace because users have long lists of their favorite movies, books and shows on their pages. Cyber tattoos Aside from protecting oneself from sexual predators, MySpace users also need to be weary of the content they post due to potential employers. Joe Callan, a MySpace user and managing editor of Milford Magazine, said today’s employers are proficient at scanning the Internet as a form of background checks on applicants. “You may as well hand your employers a folder telling them who your friends are, what your hobbies are, and what you do day-to-day,” Callan said. “Damaging or compromising material posted to a personal Web site can ruin a prospective employee’s chances as easily as a felony can.”