This is what happens when the concept of money is removed from your life.
“Myspace changed my life,” said no one.
Well, it changed mine. I was an unknown musician looking for an audience. I set up a Myspace account.
My first friend was this weird guy called Tom. Tom looked freaking happy and he was the co-founder of the site. He looked like someone that could actually be my friend. I was a Myspace prostitute. I made friends with everybody. Myspace was where I published the remixes I created and played in nightclubs as a DJ.
Unfortunately, Myspace didn’t make me a successful musician. I didn’t go viral with my Fleetwood Mac remix while holding a bottle of cranberry juice.
Myspace was fun though. It’s where I met one of my best friends. He randomly messaged me and asked to talk about my music. I met up with him, and his record label ended up publishing all of my electronic dance tracks to sites like Beatport. Without Myspace I would never have become a musician signed to two record labels.
The experience on Myspace later became my foundation and apprenticeship for how to write on the internet.
The online assistance from Myspace wasn’t enough. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was suffering from extreme mental illness. Practically speaking, this meant when I went to go on stage and play my set I’d feel physically sick.
It took me hours to prepare for the nerve-racking battle that I faced every night. I loved playing to an audience. What made no sense was my body’s response to my hobby. After a while the stress of mental illness became too much. I gave up DJing and stopped using Myspace.
It’s been years since my experience with Myspace, although my account is still very much alive (see here for a laugh).
Screenshot by me (2020). From Hollywood celebs, to nightclubs, to mixtape cds, to strange long hair…haha
The other day I thought to myself where the heck did Tom from Myspace end up? The answer surprised me, given he is now 50, which is hard to believe. You might be curious too and there’s an awesome lesson in it for you.
The historical importance of Myspace
Myspace was significant because it accidentally paved the way for creative people to release their work into the world without owning a website. Tom made this happen by mistake and it was a happy accident.
Myspace created the social media category of apps. Without Myspace we may never of had Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram. Tom started Myspace in 2003 with Chris DeWolfe.
Myspace got eaten for breakfast by Facebook in 2008.
The company eventually pivoted to serving musicians solely. They lost their identity and their mojo. Nobody knew what Myspace was anymore. Now, only people who want to walk through a time warp (like me) visit the site.
Myspace helped the internet unleash its creativity, and that’s historically important regardless of how things ended up.
This is what Myspace Tom is doing now.
Myspace was sold in 2005 for $580 million.
Tom walked away from the experiment a rich human. He attempted to stay on for a few years at the company, but became frustrated with endless meetings and the inability for anybody to make a decision.
He dabbled with a few adviser roles. Then, in 2009 he retired. Since then most people have no idea what happened to him. Here’s what he said about the concept of retirement:
I’ll never say ‘never’ because, more than anything, I like the idea that anything can happen. I don’t know exactly where my life will lead. Adventure and the unknown has always been appealing to me.
Tom was going to travel the world and do nothing. In 2011 Tom visited the Burning Man festival and became inspired by photography, thanks to his friend Troy Ratcliff.
“I’m not necessarily trying to represent nature exactly. I’m trying to make something beautiful like a painter would,” says Tom. Now Tom travels the world as a photographer. He doesn’t make a dollar from his art and that’s intentional. All of his photographs can be found on Instagram.
“I haven’t wanted to take commissions or sell my photos, or do anything commercial with it — that would just feel like work, which I don’t want to do.”
Tom lives an odd life.
It reminds me of the Humans of New York founder, Brandon Stanton. Brandon left behind a high-profile job in finance to take photos of everyday people in the street.
He said in an interview “I’d go out some days and ten people in a row would make me feel like I’m some sort of freak. ‘No you can’t take my photo — get out of here!’ There were days when I couldn’t do it anymore and would go home and lay in bed.”
Brandon burst into tears after sharing that experience. The rejection was overwhelming. What saved him was this: The act of doing his passion rather than thinking about it.
Doing creative work for the sake of it is a deeply fulfilling and odd experience. It’s worth you experimenting with like Tom and Brandon have.
What you can learn from Myspace Tom
Okay, so you may not be retiring on hundreds of millions of dollars. What Tom can teach you about life through his experience is still powerful.
Time is worth more than money.
“I’ll pay a lot to not waste time. Time is the most important thing to me — how can you do all the things you want to do with such limited time. … I’m hoping the science of life extension makes progress.”
The purpose of retirement is not to quit work. It’s to quit the type of work you have to do for money, so you can do whatever work you want and not need to stress about how much it pays.
- Retire from work you do for money as soon as you can.
- Buy back your time. Buying stuff forces you to work longer for money.
Dumb meetings and indecision aren’t worth it.
It forced Tom to walk away from corporate life. Tom likes to build stuff and explore his creative passions. It’s hard to make progress when you’ve got a corporate giant molding you for their exploitation and benefit.
Real passion keeps you going.
You might think having loads of money and retiring like Tom is a dream. The problem with retirement and loads of money is it gets boring.
$580 million will make you happy for a few months, not a lifetime.
Tom figured this out the hard way. He says his passion for photography keeps him traveling. I reckon that’s a lie. His passion for photography keeps him alive and away from doing enormous amounts of coke and gambling at casinos every day.
When money is taken care of, work changes its meaning. If you’re not intentional about that meaning, then you’ll end up having a new meaning written for you which may not be consistent with living a good life.
Myspace is a distant dream. Most people will never see or hear from Tom again. Tom took down his blog called “Stop working, start playing.”
The only way to stay in contact with Tom from Myspace is through the gorgeous photos he takes of nature. Tom found beauty in the world through the lens of a camera.
You can find beauty in art, too, when the concept of money no longer directs your life.