From Instagram to TikTok, the usage of social media has turned into a major pastime in today’s society. Whether it is through posting on our stories or scrolling through our news feeds, social media has taken space in our lives. In 2021, it was noted that “Millennials spent an average of [two hours and 34 minutes] each day entertaining themselves on social media.”
As a Millennial, I wondered if there would be a time where the online version of myself will become more important than who I am in real life. I deliberately disconnected from my personal social media accounts as a way for me to connect to the now — then the world shut down. I couldn’t escape from keeping up with the latest news on Twitter, creating a Facebook account solely for work and using my business Instagram account to view entertaining Reels. I noticed that I can’t escape from social media, it’s been a major component in my life since Myspace*.
In order to look at social media’s impact on my generation, we must go back to Tom and our friends on Myspace.
The Beginning of Myspace
Myspace launched in 2003, and “allowed users to completely customize their profile, but also could embed music and videos.” Although Myspace was noted to have similarities to Friendster, a social media website that was created in 2002, Myspace became the platform for my generation. My sister forbade me to have an account, so for the longest, I created a fake Myspace profile to connect with friends in school and strangers who shared similar interests.
In 2004, Myspace became the “first social media site to reach a million monthly active users,” which was a major accomplishment back then. Starting in 2005, Myspace had a three-year stint of becoming a one of the popular platforms for users. In 2006, it temporarily surpassed Google as the most visited site.
Like other Millennials, Myspace was my introduction to social media. For me, Myspace felt like freedom, it was my personal diary and a crash course in learning HTML. I customized my profile by having the right song fit my mood (and hiding it — so people were forced to listen), designing my background to include a fixed image at the bottom of my page, and making a top 16 for my closest friends.
Myspace’s Influence Other Platforms Today
Myspace had other facets to explore as a user. Josh Mandell, a former contributor to Forbes, wrote that MySpace Music arguably became the beginning of streaming music, which contributed to it being valued at $2 billion when it launched in 2008. At a point where CD sales were down, Myspace partnered with labels for advertisements and sponsorships, ticket sales, music downloads and merchandising. Mandell stated that MySpace Music paved the way for the strategies and contracts that prominent streaming platforms use today. MySpace Music allowed users to discover new artists and songs, which could be added to a playlist on a user’s profile. Major artists were discovered because of MySpace Music, among those included Calvin Harris, Panic! At The Disco and Sean Kingston.
Myspace had influencers. Tila Nguyen known as Tila Tequila, an Internet celebrity and reality TV personality, was recruited to Myspace because she was kicked off Friendster for violating their rules. After, Nguyen actively recruited thousands of people to join her on Myspace, which made her one of the most popular people on the platform (besides Tom, of course).
The Fall of Myspace
In 2008, Facebook, a social media platform created in 2004, surpassed Myspace in the amount of users on its website. In the following year, Myspace downsizes their staff by 30 percent. The final nail in the coffin is when Nguyen switched allegiances. The New York Times reported, “I just lost my passion for MySpace,” she said in an interview, adding that she does not even remember her MySpace password, even though her page still lists 3.7 million fans. “I haven’t logged on because it’s not simple anymore.”
Although Myspace has been surpassed by countless social media platforms, it was a pioneer for my generation. From streaming platforms to influencers, it still has an impact today.
*Myspace was previously stylized as MySpace.