MySpace Tom mistaken for Internet Pervert

I was talking with a friend yesterday who was freaking out about his step-daughter’s new MySpace account. Apparently, the daughter had only had the account open for the afternoon and already there was “some 31 year old man” trying to pick her up.

Me: How do you know there’s a 31 year old man trying to pick her up?

Him: He’s in her contact list as her “friend”. He’s 31. She’s a teenager. What else could he possibly want to talk to her for? Knitting lessons?

Me: It seems odd that some random dude would ask her to be his friend like that. Did she put up a risque picture of herself or something?

Him: No, she doesn’t have any pictures up there yet.

Me: K. That’s really odd then. Maybe it’s a bot?

Him: It’s some guy named Tom, and his profile says he’s 31.

Me: Tom? Tom with 174 million friends?

MySpace's default friend, Tom

So it turns out Tom is just Tom and not some pervy, old dude looking to score with a little high school girl. After I explained the function of the default friend, he was no longer wanting to strangle poor Tom.

What struck me about this conversation wasn’t so much that the protective parent was worried about some creepy man trying to put the moves on his daughter, but more that this protective parent works in computers and had never heard of Tom, nor was he familiar with how social media in general works. With as much coverage as Web 2.0 gets, and as often as MySpace and Facebook make the headlines in the news, both business and otherwise, you would think that everyone in America would be able to explain what those services are, how they work, or at least what the point of the whole thing is… but they can’t.

The general public only vaguely recognizes those brand names, and couldn’t begin to tell you what the heck they are or what their function is. (Example: Tried to tell my family about installing Pligg over Christmas break… What’s Pligg? It’s a Digg clone. What’s Digg? Um, you haven’t heard of Digg? No. Really?)

Sadly, I think it’s just going to take time for this new wave of Internet “stuff” to become completely mainstream. When I was running an ISP way, way, way back in 1995, I remember being so frustrated with my family for not getting why I was bothering with this Internet thing at all because “it’s just full of perverts and porn” and wasn’t going to last anyway.

The unconverted are saying the same things about social media right now, and I think (I hope) at some point, they’ll begin to grok the utility and non-perverse nature of these types of services.

Until then, though, perhaps “Tom” should make more of an effort to clarify that he’s not friending little girls so he can put the moves on them. ;)

MySpace Tom mistaken for Internet Pervert

37 Responses

  1. What kind of propaganda are you doing for Tom? ;)

    David Dalka April 26, 2007 at 12:44 pm #
  2. That is just too funny.

    David Wallace April 26, 2007 at 12:47 pm #
  3. This is funny :). So sad and true about many of today’s parents. I glad this parent was so protective though. It is better this way than the other way. BTW… Tom was my first MS friend too, and for a split second when I saw this, I thought… what the … ?

    marek April 26, 2007 at 1:13 pm #
  4. The default friend thing is stupid anyways. Why should everyone be only one vertex away from every other person? Makes for a stupid social network.

    David Marek April 26, 2007 at 2:25 pm #
  5. Hey this TOM guy is hitting on my girlfreind, he has been for like the last 2 years!

    Can anyone get me some of his personal information? I’d really like to pay this BOZO a visit.

    Fearmeidea April 26, 2007 at 2:30 pm #
  6. Tom is a pervert. He isn’t wearing any pants in that picture.

    J.R. "Bob" Dobbs April 26, 2007 at 2:31 pm #
  7. Every older guy on people’s lips on the internet are either called a pervert or Pedo. Why don’t we just get rid of all people over 30.

    Gee April 26, 2007 at 2:41 pm #
  8. marek… I agree it’s good that parents are watching out for their children, but I think they’re getting over obsessive. For instance, a friend of mine banned his kids from MySpace because of some 1 in a million stalker story he read in his local news paper. *shrug*

    I say we just lock our children in a closet until they’re 36 years old and ready to have babies with a partner we pick for them. That way they’ll rightfully be oblivious to all the evils of the world and come back to us whenever they think the boogyman is in the closet.

    e.g. If you don’t let your children experience the world (good or bad) they won’t be able to survive in it when they gain their independence!

    If your kids want to use myspace, let them.. but then make the time to learn how to use MySpace yourself. Don’t have time you say? Bull shite, turn off the TV and you’ll have crap loads of time!

    Albion April 26, 2007 at 2:42 pm #
  9. While it’s certainly amusing I think you’re being rather tunnel visioned on the idea. I’m a 36yr old network engineer who’s worked in the business (ISPs, Telco, Gaming, etc) for just over 20 years now. Fact is, I have no idea who Tom is, nor do I particularly care. Here’s the thing, MySpace is meaningless to me, I occasionally follow links to musicians I’m interested in, but otherwise it just holds absolutely no interest.

    Question I have to ask: Why -SHOULD- I know Tom?

    This being said I think I’d be cognizent enough of a parent to do more than make wild assumptions/accusations about this sort of thing, but I have to admit I’m a little offended by your implication that I am somehow deficient for not knowing the mythical ‘Tom’ beast.

    Brett April 26, 2007 at 2:48 pm #
  10. The same thing happened 2 months ago with one of my co-workers. She was freaking out because her daughter had just joined MySpace and was already being asked to be friends with our good pal “Tom”.

    I explained who Tom was and she felt better, but it just goes to show you that MySpace still has a lot of ground to cover when it comes to protecting minors and ensuring that parents understand how their site works.

    Jeremy Henricks April 26, 2007 at 3:14 pm #
  11. What a dumbass! If I worked with this dude I would pick on him and flame his ass every day!

    snupher April 26, 2007 at 3:15 pm #
  12. Tom is a menace. He stole my girl on myspace!

    jayson barclay April 26, 2007 at 6:44 pm #
  13. Hey you made my day with the grock comment! I’m reading that book for the first time at this very moment. (Though I believe its grokk)

    glenndo April 26, 2007 at 6:57 pm #
  14. Offtopic: I was going to say the same thing glenndo about the comment about grokk.

    I think myspace should add in a page like Myspace for Parents FAQ.

    khaos April 26, 2007 at 8:11 pm #
  15. Tom is no friend of mine.

    diablo April 26, 2007 at 8:13 pm #
  16. It’s a daily chore of mine to explain the wonders of the Internet to people who should know better, namely marketing people. The Internet has been in public use for over ten years and still some people still don’t get it.

    Time to start making foil hats for these folks.

    Jason April 26, 2007 at 8:37 pm #
  17. That’s hilarious and yet understandable, parents are being told to keep checks on their kids and I expect this to happen moreso.

    live tv April 26, 2007 at 9:20 pm #
  18. This if funny! Thanks for the write up.

    Mani April 26, 2007 at 10:09 pm #
  19. MySpace should create a female persona – Tomasina – and have “her” befriend all female MySpace people.

    Paul Levinson April 26, 2007 at 10:35 pm #
  20. It’s “Grok” not “Grock”. It’s really ironic, though, how this article is about things that people don’t understand and contains this blatant misunderstanding of “Grok”.

    StrangerInAStrangeLand April 27, 2007 at 1:15 am #
  21. ONE BIG LAWL.

    Aaron Roselo April 27, 2007 at 1:36 am #
  22. Hah, funny. I can see how one would think that though.

    Josiah Pugh April 27, 2007 at 1:53 am #
  23. good article and subsequent discussion. i weigh in with the group that doesn’t really care much about my space or the resulting tom’s of the world. i DO think that parents that notice men showing up in their childrens friends profile are observant and responsible, and a parent certainly has the right to regulate whether or not their child frequents social networking sites like myspace or not.

    did know about tom till reading this article, and also was building infrastructure for isp’s in 1995 (and continue to this day). i’m sure there will be some other hip new application i support on a day to day basis that i know or care nothing about. its just good for the business end of an old internet plumber like myself. i don’t really care what people are flushing down the pipes, i just charge money to unclog them when there are issues.

    thanks for getting me up to speed on the whole tom menace thing.

    -=p=-

    pau1 April 27, 2007 at 3:14 am #
  24. My bad about the spelling of “grok”. I’ve never seen it written before, only heard it used (frequently — it was one of my old partner’s favorite words and I must have picked it up from him). I’ll correct it.

    Thanks for the clarification.

    carolyn April 27, 2007 at 5:19 am #
  25. Have you ever tried to delete Tom from your friends? It messes up your friend count. http://www.tomisnotmyfriend.com

    Kristoffor April 27, 2007 at 5:29 am #
  26. I always wonder why parents get upset and complain about this stuff, in the time it takes to complain they can just sign up themselves-I’m always to first friend listed on any social site my oldest joins, in exchange, he Diggs my articles.

    But I have always been a little suspicious of Tom-what is he doing with his hands?

    Tasha April 27, 2007 at 7:57 am #
  27. How old’s the stepdaughter?

    I was gonna make a joke about the parent overreacting cause everyone knows Tom only likes 13-year-olds if she was 14 or 12-year-olds if she was 13…

    But alas…

    Hilarious post.

    Sparkus April 27, 2007 at 8:15 am #
  28. i cant remember the title, what was that book called again?
    it was a great read tho.

    hibbity April 27, 2007 at 8:34 am #
  29. Well Carolyn, you surely picked a hot topic this time hun :)

    WilliamC April 27, 2007 at 8:41 am #
  30. I work in technology, and am an active part of numerous online communities. I don’t do Myspace, and had never heard of Tom.

    So shove your superiority. There are entirely different online social scenes that most Myspacers have never heard of.

    Johnny Q Public. April 27, 2007 at 9:00 am #
  31. Its kind of weird how there are so many islands to themselves. It seems quite common in the tech world that everyone assumes another techie knows about something, but no one outside of all that really cares.

    Motorcycle Guy April 29, 2007 at 6:52 am #
  32. Cshel,

    Just too funny.

    Don’t know if the parent is overprotective, ignorant, or both.

    Regards,

    Judah Gutwein April 30, 2007 at 7:19 am #
  33. Two generations of computing now…

    The older, and the kids… who are smarter… and faster…

    Some older folks are psychotic… YES… And of course should be monitored and feared by parents…

    BUT KNOWLEDGE IS POWER…

    and if parents educate themselves about the internet today… and monitor their children and their actions PROPERLY… then myspace would become THE pivotal social network…

    Me? I think it’s hilarious the parent didn’t know, or understand… But feel it’s tragic, and really the message I think is being overlooked here is that we need to realize the true power of this social, worldwide network, we call the internet

    bigger than just myspace, tom or any other thing…

    Wake up people

    Confused May 2, 2007 at 6:09 pm #
Trackbacks/Pingbacks
  1. Two Slashes » Blog Archive » Long Overdue… - April 26, 2007

    […] The rest of the crew (myself included) ran around garbage picking some of the computers around town. We got a small amount, but I’m amazed at how many people think that removing the power cable is going to prevent their data from being recovered. I have a few of those computers stored in their basements; previous owners’ data still on it. It’ll all get secure-shredded at some point (hey, I’m a nice guy), but it amazes me that people still need hand-holding to realize that removing the one component I don’t need isn’t going to save them. We found one case that had been mauled…the only things left were the motherboard (no processor, no RAM…not even the clock battery) and the hard drive. A spare P2 later (from another garbage picked rig, even though I have a case full of them) we’re staring at what the guy tried to throw away. I mean, the entire thing’s almost like calling MySpace Tom a pervert. […]

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