Ads, communication reveal benefits of networking sites

MySpace and other networking Web sites have been consistently attacked by the mass media to the point that the controversies surrounding them are mostly old news. The fact is, despite the many stories in the media about creepy men stalking underage girls through MySpace, chances are the audience to which these stories are targeting are active users of MySpace.According to Seeking Alpha, a leading provider of stock market opinion and analysis, MySpace has over 100 million users and, according to CNN, about 230,000 new members join every day. Obviously, the question to ponder is not how to deter the usage of such a dangerous Internet community, but rather, “What does MySpace do for these people?”

I remember sitting in my first grade classroom on the last day of school; the last day I would see my friends and teacher. My friends’ hugs and my teacher’s gentle words, “keep in touch,” did little to comfort me because that was just something people said when others moved away. Keeping in touch was easier said than done.

This past summer, I found one of the many classmates that watched me as I cried that summer day of ’93. It’s amazing to see a picture of a childhood friend and realize how much we’ve grown up. MySpace has given us the opportunity to be able to get in touch with old friends and, to people like me who have moved around the world four times in 18 years, that is a big deal.

In some instances, MySpace supports an entire company. Buzz-Oven, a thriving company of young music lovers, was started by CEO Aden Holt to showcase bands all over the Metroplex without having to sign contracts or sell products.

Fifty percent to 60 percent of Buzz-Oven’s advertising is on MySpace; other means of advertising include handing out free CDs with the music of the three selected bands Buzz-Oven promotes, handing out flyers and putting up posters, Holt said.

“Now, we use MySpace as a tool to reach the demographic that we go for – early high school students to college students – in a localized area,” Holt said. “I definitely think MySpace has opened up communication.”

Even without Buzz-Oven, bands and their fans are increasingly dependent on MySpace. Through MySpace, fans are constantly updated on the news of their favorite bands, from their CD releases to concerts in their area. When the common youth think of MySpace, they don’t think about creepy old men and hooking up with strangers. They log onto MySpace with the innocent intentions of getting in touch with their friends or listening to their favorite band’s new single. Yes, MySpace is a dangerous realm, and boundaries need to be drawn. But unfortunately, that is a choice that must be made by individuals.

Deadly car accidents don’t deem cars to be evil; everyone knows that bad choices made when driving a car can very well lead to harm and death. MySpace is not much different. It is a tool when it’s used with caution, and a weapon when used without giving thought to the potential consequences.

Saerom Yoo is a sophomore news-editorial journalism major from Pusan, South Korea. Her column appears every Thursday.