Thursday, March 02, 2006

MySpace: The Story of the Month

from Kelly McBride's Everyday Ethics blog:

MySpace is all over the news. It's dangerous. It's mysterious. It's menacing. It's a source of teenage hijinks, bad judgment, and even criminal behavior.

Yet it's here to stay. Like the school cafeteria, the bus stop, the mall and after school at the home of working parents, it's one more place where children and teens go to experiment with their identity and their world, away from the prying eyes of parents.

In the last month most MySpace stories come in three categories: Advice for hapless parents, criminal behavior and danger. Former Poynter Naughton Fellow Matt Thompson (now a deputy editor for interactive media at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis) was doing a radio interview on the MySpace phenomenon last week. No sooner had he finished than he found a story about the 16-year-old Colorado kid arrested after posting photos of guns.

Matt was the one who pointed out to me that current narrative is one of fear. A Canadian blogger, the Fine Young Journalist, has documented the coverage. Matt passed along the name Danah Boyd, youth culture researcher with some real information and observations.

A few of the recent MySpace stories have a more thoughtful approach. Steve Israel of The Times Herald-Record in New York wrote this story. We spent a long time talking about what makes MySpace different than hiding in the basement with your friends, sneaking cigarettes and finding your dad's old Playboy Magazines.

Are there other stories about MySpace that go beyond alarmism and fear?

Does this hook in with what Michael Moore said in Bowling for Columbine about America's culture of fear? What do YOU think?

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