This post appeared first on the original Tokyo Nights blog on Typepad. It was published Jan. 22nd, 2010.
Before Facebook was a household name, I admit that I made a MySpace page back in the day. I made the MySpace page when I moved out to Fukushima, because I craved contact with people who were not other English teachers (my views on the male English teacher in Japan are well documented on this site).
I didn't use it all that much, but over time managed to build up a fairly big list of friends. Then the ex and his stalker came along, and I deleted my account. I did start up another one eventually, but just found it so boring I couldn't be bothered to update it much. I mean, MySpace can't hold a candle to the FarmVille application, right?
To be fair, I have met some nice people in Japan through MySpace that have become good friends. We go for dinner, go to clubs, watch concerts, etc. It's pretty nice. BUT there is a dangerous animal on MySpace that you have to be careful of when you start adding Japanese people to your friends list. This organism preys on foreign people in the city with only one objective in mind: free English lessons.
It will start out very innocently, of course. You will connect on MySpace somehow (you search them, they search you, a friend recommends them, etc.) and you send a few emails. At first it's all generosity on their part, with invitations to show you around the city, introduce you to new places you haven't seen before, etc. Excited and touched to finally break through the exclusive clique that is Japanese society, you agree. Remember you are just looking for friends, not a relationship.
Before accepting any of these invitations you should have the following:
1) Your excuse to leave early. My favorite is to have a friend call me with an "emergency" or "forgotten plans"
2) Your cell phone. Otherwise #1 will be useless.
3) Your escape route, complete with train schedules. Otherwise you may be trapped in whatever place they choose to bring you.
If you're really lucky, you'll get the hybrid. This is an organism that not only wants to practice their English with you for free, but is also willing to sleep with you, should they be lucky enough to get you inebriated.
Let me give you a case study to further illustrate my point:
Girl A (who in no way resembles me. *cough* ) unwittingly met a hybrid on MySpace. On the surface he seemed friendly and interesting, if somewhat eccentric, and she agreed to go out for karaoke. Now, Girl A is no fool, and she chose a very public area for their meeting. She also had prepared all 3 suggestions on the list above, and therefore considered herself safe enough. They met in Shibuya (his choice, she hates the Hachiko meeting place with a passion), and they wandered off to their destination.
Only 5 minutes into their night out, Girl A realized she'd made a mistake of epic proportions.
Eccentric did not even begin to cover the behavior of the hybrid, as he sang with more passion than necessary, stamping his foot on the floor (off the beat, no less) for emphasis during emotional parts of the lyrics. He also had a tendency to sing with his eyes closed, throw his head back, and was the most off key singer she'd ever had the misfortune to cross. Trying not to giggle, Girl A downed as many tequila sunrises as she could during their two hour stay and sent hilarious play by play texts of the hybrid's antics to her friends on her cellphone.
When they exited Karaoke, Girl A wanted to escape, but tenacity is the hybrid's most outstanding feature. He suggested an Okinawan pub up the road, coaxing Girl A with tales of delicious island cuisine and Orion beer. Within 5 minutes of sitting down, the hybrid laid out the first part of his agenda: He wanted to improve his English. What does he suggest? Why nothing but a STUDY SCHEDULE that Girl A could partake in to teach him English. During and after the Soki Soba and Goya Champuru, the hybrid continued to suggest study aids he would like Girl A to bring and the "benefits" (wink, wink) that she could enjoy if she helped with said studying. Girl A never ate so fast to get out of a restaurant in her life.
After leaving the bar, the hybrid changed tactics and went into phase two of his agenda: sleeping with a foreigner. Pathetic attempts to grab Girl A's sympathy ("I came here from Yokohama. There's no more trains, and I'll be stuck here overnight") were put into play with little effect. When the whole "let's get naked in a love hotel, we're not far from the hill" ploy failed to gain him access to Girl A's panties, he tried to get her to take him home to her apartment.
At this point, Girl A was feeling tired, disillusioned, and a fiery wrath backed up by delicious tequila. She looked him straight in the eye and told him to fuck off. It's a crude, but effective way of getting rid of the hybrid. She left him to find his own place to stay for the night/way home and returned to her apartment in a huff. Though she was tired and somewhat drunk, she also took the time to block his ass from her MySpace page.
The story should end here, but didn't I say hybrids are tenacious? Soon the hybrid discovered one of Girl A's friends on MySpace and began using that person as a method to get information on Girl A. He also kept changing his cell phone email so that he could bombard her with text messages even after she blocked him. Weary of his ways, Girl A finally had her boyfriend call up the hybrid and threaten him with bodily violence if the hybrid did not leave his woman alone. And there ends our story.
The moral of this story is that MySpace is no longer just the home of angsty tweens desperate for strangers' approval through photo comments or people from third world countries looking for VISAS by marrying foreigners. It is now home to several types of predators that are on the lookout for innocent whiteys in Japan. Men are as vulnerable as women, although I believe men encounter more hybrids than women do. Use MySpace at your own peril!