St. Charles Herald-Guide

Heather R .Breaux BLOG

By Heather R. Breaux - September 12, 2007

For many years Iíve envied the tourists and vacationers that I watched on one of cable televisionís most-viewed networks, the Travel Channel, as they marveled at the monuments of our ancestors like the mysteriously-built Egyptian pyramids or the historically-delicate coliseums of Italy.

But as our society becomes more technologically advanced, it seems as though pop culture has reserved its own spot in the history books by way of the Internet - better known as the "information highway" - and has spawned online clubs such as the socially-addictive phenomenon of MySpace.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Web site, MySpace is tagged by its creators as "a place for friends" where users basically design their own web page complete with digital photo slideshows of family and friends, graphically-inviting wallpaper reflective of their personality and a laundry list of their favorite musicians, books and other interests.

You can even mark other registered users as your online friend by sending them a "friend request" - a message similar of that an email asking to be added to their friend list.

Upon its emergence into the tangled web of online offerings, MySpace's premier audience was that of adolescents - mainly high school students climbing the social ladder by having the highest friend count or bragging as the mastermind behind the Web site with the most visitors.

I was first introduced to the site a little over a year ago and the attraction for me was getting in touch with close friends from high school, college and childhood who either moved away or those that I've lost contact with.

Within the first few hours of my registration I was able to locate many of the long-lost friends that I was searching for and was bombarded by users who were actually searching for me.

I even discovered that a girl who befriended me in third grade is now an aspiring model and actress with an impressive portfolio of Levis Jeans spreads and a resume slugged with small acting roles in several major motion pictures.

The more time I spent browsing MySpace profiles, the more impressed I became with its functionality of bringing people closer together.

And although flaws like computer viruses doubling as legitimate users and occasional programming glitches can hinder your browsing capabilities, this week the Web site has impressed me again.

Early one morning I logged on to my web page to check for any emails or comments submitted by my online family when I came across a friend request from a user named "Remembering Dennis."

And in the users profile box was a photo of my fiance's best friend who passed away over six years ago - a friend that I never had the pleasure of meeting, but have heard a lot about.

I immediately accepted the invitation and when I entered the site I was greeted by a warm collage of photos of this young man's friends and family.

It dawned on me that a memorial site had been designed by a friend and people who knew and loved this person had already begun to leave deep, heart-felt messages for him.

His hometown was listed as Heaven and his occupation that of an angel, and the site was appropriately adorned with phrases like "Jesus is my homeboy" and "Only God can judge me now."

Tears poured down my face as I continued to scroll through the site because in my heart I knew that this would touch the lives of so many people who knew him and I was amazed at a web page that could be viewed at any time by those who loved him.

Critics of the Internet protest that its content can corrupt the youth of our time with uncensored content, but I applaud the brains behind the operation that allows users to use the Internet in a way that is ultimately and genuinely good.

This week's column is dedicated to the memory of Dennis Wedge and to his friends and family. May you always keep your memories of him close to your heart.