I recently read an article about how the retro social media site, the precursor to Facebook, was making a resurgence as people logged into forgotten accounts to snatch photos for Way Back Wednesday and Throw Back Thursday features.
It was 1 a.m. and I had nothing better to do except the dishes. I didn’t remember the old password, but since I’ve had the same email address forever it was easy to reset it. With a bit of hesitation, I changed my password and entered the time machine. It jerked me back to 2009 and then beyond three or four years when everyone was on MySpace, a time when apparently my friends looked happier and younger.
To begin, the comments, statuses and profile pages are gone. Pictures are all that remain on an ancient MySpace profile. But as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
My profile picture was of a zine I created in 2009 that I named SuZine. I had great aspirations for it to become a quarterly magazine for writing, but alas, it was a one-off publication. Thanks, MySpace for making me feel like a slacker right off the bat.
Fortunately, I’ve never been big on using myself as my profile picture so I didn’t have a lot of pictures of me on my page. But what I did have was a lot of old friends – 523 to be exact – who had loads of party pics of me with them. Some of them are still close friends of mine, others aren’t because of senseless misunderstandings about stupid things that probably won’t matter a decade from now. They actually don’t matter now.
That’s when the ball got in my throat, and my heart broke.
Some of these friends are no longer alive. One died of cancer, another is currently battling the disease. Another friend killed himself, another went to prison. Yet, they look so perfectly happy frozen in time. Some friends have not aged well and have taken downward spirals into darkness. But they are forever youthful in MySpaceland, a stark reminder how life shifts drastically in only a few years.
People can marry and divorce in that time. Solid relationships that appeared so flawless can crumble. Friends who never seemed compatible in MySpace pictures are now more than cozy. Some even have children with each other. Admittedly, I have no clue who some of these friends are or why I was friends with them in the first place. Social media amnesia, I’m calling it.
When MySpace was in its heyday, I was obsessed with kickball. Pictures abound on my friends’ pages of cookouts where beer and hot dogs were consumed and a red rubber ball was kicked around a field. The term “idyllic” comes to mind. When we weren’t playing that sport, we were attending rock shows at various venues around Little Rock. It seemed everyone I knew was in a band, and I was usually in the front row dancing.
The White Water Tavern’s page is crammed with beautifully designed posters and live shots of these bands – a treasure trove of Throwback Thursday memorabilia. I remember a lot of these shows, and others are lost in a PBR haze. Like a lot of things on MySpace, most of these bands are no longer, existing for what now seems like a mere nanosecond.
Seeing those pictures made me desperately yearn for those halcyon days.
My mantra in life has long been you can never go back to yesterday, last month or last year. All you have is now. So here’s some advice: Don’t log into MySpace. The past is best left in its virtual time capsule.
Suzi Parker, TBS’ resident mixologist, is an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist and author of “Echo Ellis: Adventures of a Girl Reporter,” “Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt” and “1000 Best Bartender’s Recipes.” She writes frequently for The Christian Science Monitor, The Economist, and numerous other publications. Follow her on Twitter at @SuziParker.
To schedule an interview with Suzi or book her for a speaking engagement, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.