'MySpace is crap,' says my 38-year-old son, who is staying with me just now. 'Facebook is crap.' He had a quick look at both to see if they had any relevance to his business interests. I wasn't enamoured of Facebook either, after giving it a try for a few months, but I LOVE MySpace, where I have virtually (!) been living for the past 18 months or so and have three flourishing blogs with hundreds of viewers and dozens of subscribers. (See links at right.)
Out here in the wider world, I'm grateful for rssHugger, the proposed Directory of Australian women bloggers, and StumbleUpon. On MySpace I don't need to register on a special site to let people with like interests know I exist – the whole community is set up to function that way.
Why is it that this feels like being out in the world, and MySpace feels like a village? It's a pretty big village! Indeed, I sometimes think the whole world is on MySpace. Only this morning I added the Dalai Lama to my group of friends. And there are musicians like Tim Finn, Fiona Horne and Lisa Marie Presley, who actually write their own blogs and respond to their fans' comments and messages – although there are also plenty of others who only want to build up the numbers, and I don't bother with them. (Unless I REALLY like their stuff, e.g. Ute Lemper and Wendy Rule.) I didn't mind building up the numbers for our new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and the head of the Greens Party, Senator Bob Brown! There are fake sites for famous people, and other sites which are essentially fan clubs, but I make sure to connect with the official ones.
But I'm not there in order to collect famous strangers as 'friends'. I was first enticed there because that way I could listen to new work by a muso I actually know, a personal friend in real life, the lovely Clive Price. I soon found other friends there, old and new. Above all I love the terrific poets I've come across, whom I would never have known otherwise. To mention only my top favourites: George Wallace, Geraldine Green, Ed Churchouse, and a woman I know only as 'dawn', a nature-lover who paints wonderful pictures and writes non-literary poetry which has the power to move people profoundly. (4/3/08: I just deleted the wonderful Lori Williams from this list, as she has left MySpace. *Sob!*)
I have met passionate political activists – usually older women like myself, interestingly enough – warm-hearted witches who treat me as a mentor, young people who honour me by talking to me freely and frankly, and a whole mob of haiku poets who post new verses every week on my Haiku on Friday page.
I've had my work published in the online literary magazines rorschach failure and Unquiet Desperation (the latter also publishes a print edition), I've helped distribute free booklets of "poetry found", and The Smoking Poet reviewed my latest book of poetry, Secret Leopard along with my husband Andrew's environmental fairy story, Jorell. All these contacts were made on MySpace.
It's also a great place to keep in touch with people I know in real life, including friends overseas, and even those only a couple of hours away. My 16-year-old god-daughter Mikaela lives in another State, and I've seen little of her since she was small. She joined MySpace just because I said I enjoyed it, and we now know each other much better through our communications there. My relationship with her has become one of the great treasures of my life! I've also grown closer to my 40-year-old stepson Adam since he joined; we've had discussions that go much deeper than our conversations at family gatherings. In the context of MySpace we relate without our preconceived opinions and past history. And there he's made the acquaintance of one of my real-life best friends and now they're pals too. On my visit to Texas last year I formed warm friendships with poets and witches I met, then came back home with no certainty that we'd ever see each other again. Thanks to MySpace, we've at least been able to remain in close contact and many of those friendships have deepened.
Why wouldn't I love MySpace?