All About Mixi, The Japanese Social Network Website
Social networking sites like Myspace and Facebook have become huge in America in recent years. While these sites also have plenty of foreign users, other countries have their own particular spins on social networking. A great example of this would be mixi, which is probably the number one networking site in Japan. With this article I hope to give some info that’s relevant for both students of Japanese interested in the service, as well as others who’re just curious about what foreign social networking sites are like.
Perhaps the biggest difference between mixi and its American counterparts is that the former is a more closed service – you can’t just register on your own, you need to be invited by a current member in order to be able to join. Mixi is so widespread that if you have any Japanese friends, chances are they’re on the site, so if you’re interested it would be a good idea to ask them for an invite. I was invited by a Japanese friend last year and have made several more friends through mixi. This is probably one of the coolest social network website. If you are fond of buying likes and followers on social media like the services offered by Buzzvoice, you can also apply those in Mixi. Nowadays, the number of likes and followers is a determinant how good your social media page is. So if you want to have an endearing page in your social media network, you can use services like Buzzvoice.
Once you’re actually on the site, you’ll notice some pretty big differences from Myspace or Facebook. The first being that the site design is a lot more uniform. You can’t customize your layout at all (like Myspace) or add applications to your page (a la Facebook). Despite this, if you have some Japanese ability the layout is very intuitive and easy to use. People also do not tend to use pictures of themselves on mixi for their avatars, instead using pictures of things like celebrities, manga, or scenery. Mixi *does* allow you to upload photo albums, and if a user has pictures of themselves more than likely they’ll have them there, but many have them locked away as friends-only. Also on the issue of privacy is the “footprints” feature: nobody can look at your profile without it being recorded in your account, so you can always see who’s been checking out your profile lately.
One of the main draws of the site is its blogging features, which are more developed than those of Myspace or Facebook. I find it’s also a lot more common for people to regularly update their diaries on mixi than on other networking sites. If you’re a student of Japanese it’s also a great way to practice. You can also upload pictures (as mentioned before), movies, write entertainment reviews, and even use a Last.fm-esque program to tell people what you’ve been listening to lately.
Finally, mixi also has a lot of communities to join, and I’ve found taking part of them to be one of the main ways to meet people on the site. Many communities have topics where you can post a simple introduction and greeting, and you’re bound to get some hits this way. There are also several communities dedicated to making foreign friends and cultural exchanges, which would be a good place to look if you’re a non-Japanese looking for Japanese friends. Several communities are also dedicated to certain cities/regions of the world, so you can try finding people who are a bit closer to home.