It’s finally your turn on the family’s desktop computer. It takes forever to boot up. (You kill time by rapping along to the bridge in Evanescence’s “Bring Me To Life,” feebly blasting from your iPod nano.) You’re finally online. What’s the first site you visit to express your emo musical taste, rearrange your heirarchy of friends, make angsty statuses to catch your crush’s attention, and stay up-to-date on all your school’s cliques and crushes? Not Facebook. Not Twitter, nor Tumblr. There’s only one choice for you: MySpace.
The last time you heard about MySpace was probably when the site accidentally deleted the 50 million songs during a server migration in 2018. But after the last 5+ years of world-shaking social media vitriol, in rolls the MySpace-themed platform SpaceHey, a “retro social network” that claims to be focused on privacy and customizability, but also sweet, sweet nostalgia. It’s currently making headlines, attracting a recent surge of 200,000 new users.
But does this “new” network have anything to offer users who were too young to experience the, uh, heyday of the site that inspired it? Here’s the 411 on the appeal of SpaceHey — from the perspective of Lifehacker’s resident Gen Z (cusp!) writer.
What is SpaceHey?
SpaceHey is functionally a social network and stylistically a nostalgia project. It looks and feels a lot like MySpace did during its peak in the mid-2000s — although SpaceHey makes it clear it has no official connection to MySpace. In fact, the German student developer behind the new network, An (who goes by just his first name online), was only a few years old during the height of MySpace’s popularity.
When I first clicked on the site, I had to fight back against the feeling I was visiting a long-defunct relic of an earlier social media age, before the days of ceaseless data mining. On that note…
Privacy? So retro!
While you can take some precautions to make Facebook (slightly) less evil and invasive, you can’t help the fact that it was designed to mine your data for all it is worth. But at SpaceHey, all-powerful algorithms are still a thing of the future. Instead, your feed is chronological, and the user experience doesn’t feel designed to keep you doom-scrolling indefinitely. SpaceHey’s greatest selling point might be the fact that it doesn’t bombard you with targeted ads, suggest friends from your contacts, or directly promote content your way. Vintage!
A profile by Fast Company points out that one of MySpace’s features An was particularly drawn to was the idea of customisation: If Twitter and Facebook profiles are the same-y suburban neighbourhoods of the internet, one identical profile after another, SpaceHey encourages users to personalise their pages. Get ready to stretch your old-school HTML muscles and plug in bold text, random italics, and needlessly blinking text. You can even use inline CSS to try out custom fonts and background images. Just like the old days.
How to sign up for SpaceHey
Signing up is predictably simple; all you need is an active email to register your account. YouTubers like this one can take you on a journey as they discover (or re-discover) what it’s like to personalise a profile with basic coding tips and tricks.
When you’re signing up, keep in mind that to actually replicate the OG MySpace experience, you probably need the magic of friends logging on at the same time as you. SpaceHey boasts 300,000 users, but don’t you want to rush of meeting that special someone over instant message? If you’re going to recreate the simplicity of early social media, you’ll need to do your best to get your friends (and frenemies) to sign up with you.
A final note from me, the voice of a generation
My thoughts on SpaceHey as a post-MySpace digital native: I’m not sure nostalgia alone is powerful enough to get me to squeeze SpaceHey into the stranglehold that Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram have over my every waking moment.
My user experience browsing the site/social network was interesting enough, but so is visiting a history museum. As a writer and comedian, I use social media as a tool to stay on top of trends — not to harken back to the magic of a simpler time. I’m rooting for SpaceHey’s success, only for the sake of my elders, but I don’t predict that Gen Zers will be flocking to the site for much more than a curiosity stroll. Prove me wrong, fellow kids.