Saturday, January 5, 2008

Middle Schoolers Teach us about MySpace

I've had some trouble understanding the Facebook/MySpace phenomenon. Call me an old fogie. Or, even worse, call me a technophobe. But I just don't get why I would want to waste valuable time updating my wall or putting out a status update to a bunch of strangers.

Yet, I'm beginning to learn about it from the middle school girls who flock to my local library in the mid-afternoon each weekday, fluttering around one another like noisy pigeons. Most are Spanish speaking, and it's obvious that they don't have computers at home. So, they line up, sometimes waiting as long as an hour to get onto the free PCs and spend a few precious minutes on their page. The librarians look defeated. None of the girls shows the slightest interest in the library's other offerings--those papery items that sit, old media style, on the metal shelves, gathering dust.

But I see something else. During their allotted fifteen minutes of online time, these young women are no longer stuck in this static, suffocating farm town. They are reaching out, if only to flirt with some cute guy halfway across the world whom they will never meet. And in doing so, they are getting from the Internet the one thing us old fogies probably never will. A moment of transcendence.

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