Like many a performer, internet junkie or just an idiot with too much spare time, I was lured into creating a MySpace account. You know, that "networking" site where you can potentially link to millions, all of whom are your "friends." I'd heard it was a great way to publicize oneself without actually having anything to publicize but your ass cheeks. Dane Cook shrewdly capitalized on this new phenomenon and was the first comedian to develop an audience based on his computer skills.
Before I knew it, after becoming "friends" with an assortment of people I actually knew, I was getting requests from total strangers to be my "friend." I could see their profile, pictures, and other friends, and could then approve or deny their friend request if I liked their face. Sort of like a postmodern country club, where the membership applicants provide homemade porn.
At first, it was fascinating to see who was connected to whom, as well peruse their pictures and watch their videos. I confess to one late night four hour marathon of mind-numbing, addictive MySpace hell. I am flabbergasted at just how much personal information people are willing to post for the entire world to see. Vacation pictures, family photos, and previously secret X-rated fantasies are no longer for the album hidden under the bed.
The first warning signal was when Rupert Murdoch bought MySpace in yet another attempt at world domination. Big Brother is not just watching, we're providing him the stuff to watch. I trust Rupert Murdoch about as much as I trust herpes. I became instantly uneasy about one of the world's largest media empires knowing who my "friends" are, or having access to pictures of me on the beach or dressed in drag at a Halloween party. Remember the scenes in classic thrillers where someone would get an anonymous letter or phone call saying, "We know who you are and we know who your friends are"? Now they DO, and can find out in the brief moment you're away from your computer on the toilet, which is probably the only private "My Space" left.
The second warning signal was receiving all these annoying MySpace emails like "Wonder Rectum wants to be your friend!" And it was more than a little scary when I was performing in Las Vegas and three drunken biker chicks, who looked like they came to see me because Criss Angel "Mindfreak" was sold out, showed up after a show and screamed, 'JIM!!! WE'RE YOU'RE MYSPACE FRIENDS!!! HEY, BUDDY!!!" I wanted to say, "Buddy? I don't believe I've had the pleasure, madam." After I declined their invitation to hop on one of their cycles, drink Wild Turkey and go "tear up this motherfucking town," they refused to leave and had to be yanked out by the security guards, who were anxious to kick some butt and grateful for the exercise. I actually felt a twinge of guilt about treating my "friends" this way, which made it clear that the world has gone completely mental and I had just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.
Another warning occurred when assorted strangers who had taken a photo with me at an event suddenly posted them on the site, forwarding them to God knows how many people. I'm not the world's most photogenic creature, so imagine my horror viewing pictures of me looking like Don Knotts after a gang rape. I thought, wait a minute, idiot, this was just for your personal keepsake, not some pedophile hiding out in Thailand. I henceforth vow to become a control freak regulating every picture of me available to the world. Just like Barbra Streisand's, the right side of my face will be as visible as the dark side of the moon.
The Internet is convenient, dangerous, and now a part of our lives whether we like it or not, like cell phones or staph infections. It's very disconcerting that my personal information, previously available only to, well, me, is now potentially in the hands of everyone on the planet with hacking skills. It's TOO MUCH INFORMATION IN THE HANDS OF TOO MANY PEOPLE. Yes, it's wonderful to be having an argument with someone and then just be able to Google it and say, "See, you're wrong, Mitt Romney did flip-flop." But there's something really sick about being able to have instant access to a naked picture of some bozo in Waukegan, Illinois.
The straw that broke the MySpace back came when some maniac hacked into my profile and started sending out mass emails, as me, inviting people to some porn hook-up site. Aside from the embarrassment, I would have hoped that my real "friends' would realize that if I was inviting them to a porn site, the people would be a hell of a lot better looking.
After contacting MySpace and receiving instructions about as useful as Bush's war plan, I deleted my entire profile, a process only slightly less difficult than changing my entire identity. I have now left this fifth circle of Internet hell. If you are a MySpace member, pause for a moment and consider that you are friends with someone who is friends with someone who is friends with someone who wants to be the next Charles Manson. They can find you. The world may not have been as convenient and connected a few years ago, but we all had a little thing called "privacy," and in order to be famous, one had to have a little thing called "talent."
From now on, if you want to know who my "friends" are, you will just have to be invited to my Christmas party. Good luck with that.