BEVERLY HILLS, CA—An estimated 150 million people continued to be without social lives Tuesday as a massive system failure at MySpace.com entered its third day.
"The problem is taking longer than we anticipated, but rest assured we're working around the clock to get MySpace back online," said David Gundy, a spokesman for the social networking site. "We're hoping to have friendship restored to our users as soon as possible."
The outage, which occurred late Saturday night, is believed to be the result of a complicated wallpaper upload for the page of a former VH1 I Love New York contestant, which triggered a chain reaction of web browser crashes and server shutdowns. Although MySpace's emergency-response team has so far been unable to reconnect any of the millions currently stranded without access to online companionship, Gundy said he remains hopeful that no profiles have been lost.
However, because the sudden lack of friends has deprived MySpace users of comments, bulletin posts, and searches for elementary school crushes, it is feared that the ordeal could inflict long-term psychological damage. In Chicago alone, an estimated 50,000 people remain trapped in their apartments, with no way of contacting the outside world about new bands, Adult Swim cartoons, or the latest video games.
"I lost 6,456 of my best friends in an instant," said Minneapolis resident Peter Steinberg, 20, who has loyally befriended as many profiles as possible over the past two years. "Nothing can describe how devastated I feel. Some of these people I've exchanged two, even three comments with, and I can't tell you how many ROTFLMAOs we've shared, too."
Steinberg was among the first to suspect something was wrong with MySpace.com Friday when he was unable to send an animated image of TV's ALF chasing a cat to his MySpace group, "Welcome to Bartertown, Bitch."
Other stranded, friendless citizens are doing their best to cope, but are finding it harder and harder to go on.
"I've just been wandering in and out of my cubicle in a daze, not knowing what to say and who to talk to," said Upper Darby, PA data-entry technician Patrick "Smiley457" Mancuso, 31. "I thought about asking someone at work or in my apartment building if they'd join my friend group. But how am I supposed to tell which ones I will like and which ones I won't? It's too overwhelming."
Corey "Aqualad" Friesen, 18, of Danville, IL appeared to share Mancuso's fears about manual and analog socializing. "I vaguely remember trying to make friends pre-MySpace, but in 16 years, I only made three real friends," Friesen said. "If I have to revert back to face-to-face friend gathering, I would be middle-aged before I built that number into the double digits. I'd definitely never get back into the hundreds again."
Denver's Marco Imbrescia, known to his MySpace friends as I Smell Tuna, contemplated the existential ramifications of the outage.
"Without an 'About Me' section, I've lost all sense of self," said Imbrescia, 17, who depends on the site to convey his innermost thoughts to millions of extended-network friends. "Do I want kids? How tall am I? What's my body type? These are questions I can't answer anymore. I'd pray to a god for help, but I've lost my religion field."
A handful of relief organizations have begun to offer some assistance to MySpace refugees. The American Red Cross is currently setting up a network of approximately 60 smaller-sized "fill-in" sites, where lonely MySpace users can post abbreviated profiles and receive instant messages from aid workers in half-hour increments. But because it's only intended as a temporary stopgap, user options are austere: MySpace members cannot list hobbies and interests, upload MP3s, or link to favorite YouTube clips, making friendship compatibility and popularity nearly impossible to predetermine.
On Monday, MySpace co-creator Tom Anderson issued an apologetic press release on the website of MySpace's parent company, News Corporation.
"So I know alot [sic] of you couldn't check out your profiles and I just want to say sorry for all the lameness on our end," Anderson wrote. "Rock on. :)"