What separates Gen Y from Gen Z? Is it which side of the year 2000 they were born on? The probability of them owning a home one day, or receiving a pension?
No. It is this:
That’s right, we’ve reached the point where a generation of social media users may no longer remember the nostalgic blue and orange glow of Myspace.
Pity them, for they know not the joys, trials and tribulations that early social media offered.
Like waiting 10 minutes for your Windows 98 to boot up and then pleading with your dad to get off the phone and let you connect to the dial-up for a second so you can try and stream your crush’s latest Myspace tune on your 56k modem.
Remember this sound?
It still brings back nightmares.
And how about this guy?
Ah yes, the mysterious, but highly reliable Myspace Tom. Already there waiting to be your friend, even when you’d just created a new profile and didn’t recall ever asking for his friendship.
Founded in 2003, Myspace ruled the waves of social networking from 2005 and 2008, and one year (2006), it even surpassed Google as the most visited site in the US.
It amassed hundreds of millions of users and offered a lot of super-exciting early functionality. Like selecting a song that would automatically play on your profile, and embedding content from an exciting new video hosting website called YouTube, which launched in 2005.
The site also had a quirky way of destroying friendships by only allowing you to display eight of your “top friends” on your profile.
In 2009, Myspace was overtaken and eventually left in the dust by Facebook, losing millions of users and billions of dollars in market value.
But if you’re reading this and lamenting the hard graft you put into crafting the perfect profile to stand out from the Year 9 crowd, fear not!
Because your Myspace prowess might actually be a transferable skill.
Myspace isn’t the only site to now line the social networking graveyard.
Friendster was a pioneering social networking site launched in 2002.
It was the first platform of its kind to break into the mainstream, amassing millions of users within months of launching.
It grew to 115 million users before rapidly losing traffic in the late 2000s and eventually rebranding itself in 2011 as a gaming site. It was shut down in 2015.
In 2005, Bebo was launched by husband-and-wife team Michael and Xochi Birch, out of their home in San Francisco.
The site was at one point the fastest growing social networking site in the world. It even overtook Myspace as the most popular platform in the UK. Could this be because it allowed you to select 16 top friends instead of Myspace’s eight? We’ll never know.
Bebo, too, ultimately crashed and burned, losing hundreds of millions in value and eventually being shut down as a networking site in 2013.
Finally, we bring you the granddaddy of social networking – MSN Messenger.
Founded in July 1999, MSN Messenger is now 18. That’s right, MSN is now an adult.
The messaging service allowed you to create elaborate screen names, which often seemed to be angsty pop band lyrics…
MSN also gave you the option to buy - repeat, buy - ‘emoticons’ (what the ancients called emojis).
And for old time’s sake, we’ll just leave you with this throwback.