They say you can tell the character of a person by the company he or she keeps.
I wonder if that old English proverb holds true on social networking sites, where anyone can rack up thousands of “friends” in a matter of days — and where nearly all of the ’08 presidential candidates have already staked out virtual real estate.
Just like their blogs, though, candidates’ MySpace pages tend to be closely monitored and completely boring. More often than not, they come off sounding contrived; you can picture the campaign paying someone’s 13-year-old, Deathcab for Cutie-obsessed nephew to set up a MySpace profile.
Does a candidate’s online friend count match that candidate’s real-world popularity? Not likely. But can you read something into a candidate based on the MySpace company he or she keeps?
That’s a different question.
As a MySpace member, you (or someone on your staff) must manually accept or deny each person who applies to be your “friend”. In theory, then, the people, organizations, bands, etc. in your friend roster say something about who you are, or at least, what type of demographic you appeal to.
As of this posting, Tom Tancredo had 4,054 pals on his official MySpace site. Because MySpace is made for voyeurs, I killed the better part of this Sunday afternoon surfing his friend list. After wading through too many Southern women with massive hair, dudes in full camo and College Republicans, I believe I have found some insight into the man.
Tancredo’s number-one friend is “Tom Tancredo 2008”. Not that it would be a surprise that Tancredo’s best friend is himself (he also lists In Mortal Danger, his own book, before The Bible on his Favorite Books list) but, alas, Tom Tancredo 2008 turns out to be merely a devoted doppelganger. Under “Who I’d Like To Meet”, the wannabe-Tom writes, “The complete wall between Mexico and the United States.”
A bit further into the friend list, we find “Ray ‘Andre’ Martin”, who looks like a close relation of Fabio. He’s fond of black leather pants, and has some photos of himself standing in a swamp wearing nothing but a banana hammock and a ponytail. Andre likes Roman sculptures and says his best physical feature is his chest. Why this guy friended Tancredo is a complete mystery.
On the other hand, there is no doubt that “Victor the Snakemannn”, the self-proclaimed “Jewelry Maker To The Stars”, deliberately friended the conservative Colorado representative. Snakemannn makes bling sported by such celebs as one of the cheerleaders on NBC’s Heroes. He has lots of waving flags and animated GIFs on his site that make it take a long time to download. (Or it could be the gigantor photo of Dee Snider.) But if Tancredo thought he had the “Republican jewelry maker/metalhead” bloc in a bag, he’s got another thing comin’. Snakemannn has already dedicated his vote to Fred Thompson.
Twenty-eight year old Matt initially looked promising, with Fox News near the top of his television preferences and Ronald Reagan listed as a personal hero, but it turns out he has other reasons for adding Tancredo. “I’m adding presidential candidates to pad my numbers,” he admits on his page.
And then there are the truly creepy ones. The blatant racists, the hardcore anti-abortionists, the seething, white 20-somethings who take cell-phone photos of themselves brandishing handguns. The type who feed on Tancredo’s bigoted brand of nationalism. You don't have to look far to find among Tancredo's MySpace possee the League of the South disciples and scary Oklahomans who banter about beating up minorities.
But it is “JUST MARRIED 7-7-07”, a 21-year-old fellow from California, who perhaps best represents Tancredo’s true base.
JUST MARRIED has lots of photos of his new wife plastered on his page, along with a picture of the Mexican flag being lit on fire. In a recent post to Tancredo’s site, JUST MARRIED laments the intrusion of people who can't speak English into his neighborhood:
“Tom ! PLEASE WIN !!! And save California !My city is geting [sic] taken over by Illigals [sic]. They just put the first spanish [sic] billboard by my house :(“
It seems the English proverb is still true: One can tell the character of a man by the caliber of his MySpace peeps.