September 28, 2007

Having fooled around for a bit on both MySpace and Facebook, I can say that Toby Young's analysis on the "U v. Non-U" traits of both social networks is dead on:
I’ve been a member of both MySpace and Facebook for at least two years and while MySpace is populated by a vast array of hip, alternative types (disc jockeys, musicians, skateboarders), Facebook users are almost exclusively upper-middle-class professionals and/or their children. It’s the internet equivalent of U and Non-U.

If anything, this divide is even more pronounced in the UK because, as a nation, we’re so class-conscious. The great thing about Facebook is that it offers people an almost limitless number of ways to advertise their superior social standing — something that U-types are particularly keen on in my experience. I don’t simply mean you can post a picture of yourself standing next to a celebrity — though, God knows, we’ve all done that — or even that you can advertise your membership of U-sounding groups, such as ‘I’d rather be hunting’. (There’s even one called ‘I say loo not toilet’.) No, I’m talking about the ‘update your status’ button that enables you to tell all your friends exactly what you’re doing at any given moment. It is this feature, more than anything else, that allows Facebook users to flaunt just how successful they are.


For a Facebook user, the ultimate confirmation that you’ve arrived is if someone else tries to impersonate you on the site. I had no idea how widespread this practice was until I applied to become Facebook friends with ‘Harold Pinter’, ‘Daniel Craig’ and ‘Angelina Jolie’ — and they all said yes.*
Personally, I've always found MySpace to be more interesting, and not just for the creative and genuinely hip manner in which spam finds itself to my humble site on a routine basis. Maybe it's just the blogger in me, but I enjoy having a forum to unapolegetically display my inner geek to the universe, and MySpace is perfect for that. Perhaps that's why bands and artists of all types love it so much; being "private" is the opposite of being creative, and exposing yourself (so to speak) to a world outside your circle of friends is liberating.

*Ed.-Also a problem on MySpace; it never ceases to amaze how low a level of celebrity it takes to generate a bogus site.

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