The casual encounters ad Jeremy and I posted on Craigslist was a research project that we felt the need to fully flush out. The question being, who could garner more responses to a no strings attached night of fun. We created fake email addresses and laughed harder than I had in a long time both while creating the ads and reading some of the replies. In terms of responses, it was a landslide victory for me, but it was more than a little disturbing to see some of the things guys wrote. Suffice to say it didn’t build up my confidence in finding a monogamous, honest man out there.
Other than that and the occasional link passed on from Jeremy, I’m not a huge Craigslist visitor. The value is huge given the breadth of listings and the ease of use, and I like the fact that they don’t use advertising and that the site has maintained the same look for so long. I believe I read once that it is one of the largest job posting sites in the US, and I know that there are many useful reasons to visit, however, it seems like a less reliable or reputable version of eBay complete with creeps who seem to thrive like toenail fungus on the site. The creep factor is obviously higher since Craigslist has the whole personal section. But it’s almost as if the designers/founders welcome that aspect given that there is a “causal encounters” section.
I like the rants and raves section. Pissed about the handle getting stuck on your rental house’s bathroom door? Why not write out that frustration. Most likely someone will write back in defense of your landlord, whom they most likely don’t know, defense of the door handle, or write about what an incompetent loser you are for not knowing how to fix the sticking handle. And this is all in response to something relatively mundane. When someone writes about more inflammatory subject matter the tempers flare and mob mentality ensues and the reading gets better and better.
I have had friends who have found roommates through Craigslist. Sold furniture without having to deal with the international shipping questions that inevitably arise on eBay despite you having checked off the will not ship internationally radio button. Sold an old sweater without having to measure out the length of the arm from both armpit to cuff and shoulder to cuff as some eBay buyers will require. Not that I’m speaking from experience. I have found tickets to sold out events and looked for some freelance jobs using Craigslist. It is easier and more relaxed than other sites, and while that can be a huge selling point for the site, it’s also what makes the abusers and the murderers and scam artists flock to it. Which, in case you’re wondering, are not good.
Just recently some kids were arrested for listing items for sale and when the potential buyer showed up, they held a gun to his head and took the cash and his cell phone. After three or four times, they got apprehended. Also in the news are the men who were placing personal ads and then either raping or murdering women who agreed to meet with them.
While the potential for dangerous encounters is high with Craigslist, not putting yourself in a dangerous position is a really reliable way to go about not getting abducted, robbed, etc. Unfortunately, we have gotten to the place where women need to assume that an unknown man might be thinking about harming her. Anyone has to conclude that someone who wants them to meet in a less than busy location might be harboring less than honorable intentions. A deal that seems too good to be true, usually is. The internet has provided anyone with a connection, an opportunity to be anonymous. And anonymity, while ideally creating a chance to show the good that can be done without needing recognition, often times brings out the worst when we see the chance to get away with something we normally could not.
I wish that were not the case.