I Miss the Golden Age of Myspace
Before filters and blue check marks, Myspace gave me what today’s social media platforms lack: human connection.
The year was 2005, and I had just had my mind blown by My Chemical Romance’s album Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge. Growing up in an Afrikaans household in South Africa meant that very few of my high school peers fell under the same emo label I did. Where they were peppy and fashionable, with a preference for the corny style of couples dancing called “sokkie,” I liked customizing everything I owned with studs and pin badges, photography (even if I wasn’t very good at it) and digging through the shelves of the local record shop. I had friends, and I was never bullied, but when I look back at that time in my life, I can’t deny I felt a sense of loneliness. My interests were diverging from everyone around me, as was my style, and although I won’t be so cliche as to say I was misunderstood, the people closest to me often thought it was “just a phase”—talk about cliches, huh?
I don’t know how I found Myspace, but once I signed up, everything changed. Unlike social media platforms today that constantly enforce an ideal of perfection, Myspace encouraged individuality, however eclectic. I remember spending hours looking through themes for my page before settling on a black-and-neon-pink graffiti-style backsplash covered in skulls and bones, only to change it up again the week after…and then again a week after that. It’s funny how that kernel of expression felt so liberating in the bubble of uniformity I was desperate to escape. My page represented me, changing and evolving as I did. When I noticed people responding to my online presence, it boosted my confidence to manifest my creativity and the things that made me different in real life, too.
Myspace Gave Outsiders a Way to Find Each Other
Myspace—when it was still stylized as "MySpace"—made it easy to connect with people who shared your interests, and before long, I had friends by the hundreds who, despite having never met in the flesh, just got me in a way that the people around me didn’t. We could talk about bands, give each other music recommendations and gush over albums. The community I found there was like fuel to the fire. The more bands people recommended to me, the hungrier I became to find music that connected to me in a real and emotional way. That’s how I found Escape the Fate, Blessthefall, the Devil Wears Prada and numerous other bands.
And then, of course, there was the music player embedded on your page. The songs I selected to feature were carefully chosen to match my theme, which in turn matched my mood. To this day, hearing Death Cab for Cutie’s “Title and Registration” always sends me back to the mid-aughts.
I always think of Myspace as the social media platform that encouraged wearing your heart on your sleeve, way before anywhere else started promoting the “it’s okay to not be okay” mentality. Maybe it was just within my community of scene kids, but putting yourself out there with weird music, bold fashion choices and honest statements about how you were feeling was not only accepted but cool. You could be honest without being judged. You could be weird without being judged. You could connect with people from continents away without being judged (and get on like a house on fire). To your fellow misfits, you weren’t just going through a phase—it was just you, the most authentic version of yourself at that point in your life.
And if you’re dying to know if it was just a phase, the answer is no. A decade and a half later, I continue to like what my mother calls “noise”: post-hardcore, metalcore, emo, punk. My hair is blue, and I still wear band T-shirts most days. Every now and again, though, I wonder if I would’ve eventually suppressed this side of me if it wasn’t for Myspace.
I Can't Imagine My Life Without My Myspace Experience
It would be hypocritical to crucify social media platforms today for their uniformity and the need to follow trends (the latest being the insufferable need to post proof that you’ve had the vaccine). I suppose for many of my misfit friends, Myspace, itself, was a trend at the height of the scene-kid phase, but back then, even trends were indulged with creative expression instead of mindlessly following along with what everyone else was doing.
Myspace unlocked the best parts of me. The love of music that was encouraged there would even lead me to work in the industry years later. The yearning for authenticity and the ability to recognize and talk about that feeling—however low or euphoric it may be—was a privilege. And I still miss the ability to rank my friends from one to ten. (I’m joking…maybe.)
Myspace may not have been able to keep up with more streamlined platforms like Facebook and Twitter—hell, I was in line to sign up for them myself the first chance I got. But it had something special that nothing else had been able to replicate since: originality. Other platforms might start out with it before falling into the sinkhole of #trends. Does the platform still have that originality, now that it’s struggling to stay alive? Maybe not. But I am grateful to have experienced Myspace’s golden days. They truly did change my life.