August 1, 2006 12:00 PM PDT
Perspective: Teen's tips for avoiding MySpace dorkinessSee all Perspectives
During a House of Representatives hearing last week, politicians discussed the strengths and flaws of social-networking sites and are now considering legislation that would restrict the use of these sites in public schools.
As much as I love MySpace.com and would detest restrictions for its use, I will concede that social networks are only as strong as the people who comprise them. So here are my five rules for using MySpace. I hope you all consider them--yes pink_Sparkle_fairy and sk8erPrincess246, I am talking to you.
Rule No. 1
If you don't know people, don't assume you can trust them. Before I confirm friend requests from strangers, I think to myself, "Why would strangers choose to be my friend over the Internet?" Probably not because they want to invite me over to eat ice cream and watch "Friends" reruns.
Many strange MySpacers are 40-year-old perverts or prepubescent boys; if you suspect the former, alert an authority figure. If it's the latter, run to your doctor and make sure that your vaccinations are up-to-date (just kidding, sort of).
Rule No. 2
Do not become Paris Hilton's MySpace friend. I could make a cheap joke about how befriending the infamous heiress is like trying to be best friends with the village idiot, but that would be mean to idiots.
So just know that Hilton will not take time out of her busy schedule of releasing awful music videos and feuding with Hollywood starlets to leave you a comment, so there is absolutely no reason for you to leave messages on her MySpace page and add her to your favorites. Also, Paris' MySpace is almost completely, without a doubt, the favorite hangout of the creeps I told you to avoid in Rule No. 1.
Rule No. 3
Never, under any circumstances, post online pictures of yourself engaging in illegal activities. For those of you who somehow still do not understand how the Web works, let me give you a tip. Everything you put on your MySpace page is available to anyone with a computer.
This includes, but is not limited to, parents, teachers, college admissions officers and potential employers. So unless you want to be grounded, in detention or crying over college rejection letters, I would recommend not putting up those snapshots from last night's "beer pong" tournament.
Take a lesson from George W. Bush: If you ever run for president, you do not want to leave traces of your wayward youth. I would, instead, suggest posting pictures of yourself distributing food to starving orphans and establishing stable democracies in the Middle East.
Rule No. 4
HTML is like your crazy grandmother--in small doses, it's awesome, but too much is a little insane and a phenomenal pain.
Last week, I tried to look at my friend's MySpace page; I had to wait for the longest time for her background collage to load, even longer for the song to start playing and an unbelievably long time to wait for an annoying chain of cursor-following butterflies to appear.
I am sure the text is some crazy color and that there are fancy pictures and scroll buttons, but the page is still loading. Once it's done inundating my poor computer, I would be happy to describe this disaster to you, but if I were you, I wouldn't hold my breath.
Rule No. 5
The number of friends you have on MySpace is inversely proportional to the number of friends you have in real life. It amazes me that some people have more friends than the population of small African countries. Spending all your free time sitting in front of your computer making "friends," leaving comments and adding to your favorites list is a completely unacceptable replacement for real-time human interaction.
So before your fingers start to bleed from excess typing, your eyes permanently adjust to the darkness of your room, and you start using abbreviations like "LOL," "BRB" and "OMG" in your speech (the ultimate mark of a MySpace addict), please go outside and talk to someone whose name is not SexxxxyLexi.
I sincerely hope that you all benefit from these five gems from the diamond necklace that is my infinite wisdom. They have all helped transform me from an abbreviation-using, Paris-friending MySpace addict into a functional human being. Good luck and TTYL.
Soumya Srinagesh is a CNET intern who will be attending Wellesley College this fall. In her spare time, she tries to pull herself away from her computer to save the world.