Friedrich Nietzsche famously wrote, "if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." It's something I only had a vague understanding of, until now.
This appears, on the surface, to be a community for people who've tried Twitter but found that the 140-character limitation exceeds their attention span. So where do you go, when MySpace is too intellectually challenging and Facebook is filled with people who can write?
It's claimed that eleven million socially-challenged people armed only with smartphones and a yearning for love and understanding have made mocospace.com their home. The smartphones aren't essential, since the interface can be used from a laptop or home computer, but I assume that given the length of some of the postings, which could be anywhere from one to as many as ten or a dozen characters long, most people here have difficulty switching from texting conventions to real language even at home.
What I did find remarkable, was that there are members here who are well out of puberty, by at least a couple of generations. It's not just another venue for teenage angst and the pangs of unrequited juvenile lust, anyone of any age can join in and clearly they do. There are many 50+ and even 60+ age members, rubbing shoulders, if I may use that expression, with chatters and texters at least forty years their juniors.
There are chatrooms here, with topics ranging from "Latinos" (1098 online) through "Emo" (645) and even "Christian" (88). When I visited, there was a total of around three thousand people in the chatrooms, which is pretty impressive. And there are other types of messaging, and games, which aren't accessible without joining up as a member, which I didn't feel like doing.
There's also a music section, with predominantly black artists on the front page and hip-hop and rap in precedence in the song listings. The artists pages are basically clones of MySpace, from what I could see.
Other things I could see, were the listings and photographs of people in search of friends, and being male I naturally took a peek at the females on offer, so to speak. I have to say that there's a refreshing level of honesty in the choice of photos here, the majority in the first few pages being mainly the somewhat-to-seriously overweight and occasionally tattooed, with ladies of color occupying pride of place. One thing going for this site as a social venue, is that traditionally built people are clearly being honest about themselves instead of posting faked images of the rich and glamorous.
There are naturally many concerns about this sort of a community, making it easy, as it does, for the innocent to be preyed upon and the despairing to become suicidal. Sadly, the more barriers to easy communications you break down, the more dangerous those communications may become. So it's good to see that the site offers a page of warnings and advice about these dangers, and a very long, considerate and comprehensive page it is, too. And it's also good to see that members have all sorts of ways to limit access to their accounts, by strangers for example, or to prevent friend requests from others unless they can prove they know the person they are seeking to befriend, already. It's a well thought out policy, although we know that hardly anyone will read it and even then there will be those who read it but like to live dangerously, anyway. A community can only make so many rules, before it becomes too repressive to remain a community, and ultimately people have to make some choices of their own.
Frankly this is not a social network I feel like joining, at this time in my life anyway, but millions have and more will certainly follow. It's unusually easy to look around, even as a non-member, and get a good impression of the types of people that make up this community and thrive in it. You'll know almost at once whether this one is for you.
As for me, I still feel like I've gazed into the abyss, but I think I got away before anyone noticed.