Upfront: Messing with the Internets

Categories:      Opinion
Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 at 9:24 AM
Upfront: Messing with the Internets by Cory Vaillancourt

Ahhhh, Craigslist. Outer of pedophiles, killer of hookers, vendor of coffee tables - I wonder if Craig Newmark ever saw this coming. You see, when Craig started Craigslist in 1995, (I wonder if he named it after himself or another Craig he knows), Craigslist was an email distribution list of local events in the San Francisco area. Initially, it was sent only to FOC (Friends of Craig), but by 2000, it had expanded in scope both philosophically and geographically to include more than 200 classified ad categories in hundreds of cities across the globe. About this time, it started to become perverted from Craig's original intention- perverted in the most literal sense of the word. Rather than serve as the utilitarian, egalitarian free-market exchange that it could have been, Craigslist became populated with all sorts of robot scammers and desperate psychos, culminating in the "Craigslist Killer" incident of 2009.

I've even got my own sad story to tell. In 2001, I bought a used 12-string guitar from a guy in Cincinnati for $75. Great deal, right? Well, I'm not sure because it still hasn't been delivered. Sure, the check I sent was cashed, but I never received my guitar. And, at that time in my life, $75 was a shitload of money, roughly equivalent to 75 beers. I think I had to save up for like six weeks to accumulate that kind of scratch, so I was pissed when it became apparent that I had been scammed.  It took every ounce of strength from my then-girlfriend to prevent me from tearing off in my car to Cincinnati to find this fellow and give him the old what-for. Since that time, I have harbored a deep resentment towards both Cincinnati and Craigslist, so I vowed to one day to have my revenge.

Today is that day. For Craigslist, at least. Cincinnati, your time will come. Oh yes it will. Your time will come.

Last week, I authored dozens of fake Craigslist posts and scattered them about the Erie branch of the site. This process was tedious and laborious-- apparently Craigslist is so overpopulated with porno-spambots that every single post I made required verification by captcha to assure everyone involved that I wasn't a robot. I am happy to report that I passed and am assuredly not a robot. Yet. However, I must assume that all these anti-robot security measures indicate that there are indeed robots attempting to post on Craigslist, which in turn means another sign of the apocalypse is upon us-- robots are talking to robots; it's only a matter of time before they stop bullshitting about personal ads and decide to gang up on us and enslave the human race. But I digress. This edition of Upfront is about messing with meatbags on Craigslist, not with our future robot overlords.

I received hundreds of responses, some from humans, some from robots, some from unknown lifeforms. I also received dozens of spam emails that did not pertain to the ads I posted at all, which means we may still have time to defeat our future robotic overlords before they learn that 'coffee table for sale' does not mean 'please send me advertisements about your porn webcam.' I'm still unsure why such aggressive advertising is even needed for such endeavors, but again, I digress. So, without further ado, here are some of the highlights of Upfront messing with the internets.

It has never ceased to amaze me how many people, even in meatworld, will ignore every red flag that pops up to simply continue the unhealthy pursuit of an unattainable ideal, be it love, employment, or coffee table.

Help wanted

8-22-2011 12:05 PM - http://erie.craigslist.org/lab/2560243090.html

I have a cast on my arm, so I need help lifting a couch into my van. Please be female, and have nice skin. Tom Petty fan a plus. Huge women also a plus. Must love small dogs.

Dialogue #1:
Him: does this actually work for you

Me: it works so well, in fact, that i need to increase the dimensions of the hole in my basement floor. i'd do it, but you know, the whole cast on the arm thing...how are your digging skills?

Him: but why r u interested in a woman with soft skin to help you

Me: I guess you don't specifically NEED soft skin, because I do have a basket full of lotion.

Him: but i dont understand why a woman, why do u wanta woman to help

Me: You're going to get the hose, i swear

Dialogue #2:
: do you still need help - Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Me: are you an american girl? is your mom a senator or something? and if something were, to say, "happen," will you be missed? not like caylee anthony missed, but for real missed.

Her: Omg your a creep bye - Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Me: no, no, don't think that about me. i have a very sensitive, feminine side. for example, i'm currently rocking "goodbye horses" by Q Lazarus on my ipod. all my guests seem to dig it. holler back.

Her: Bye - Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Me: you writing back 'bye' says to me you didn't mean goodbye, baby, you meant please, don't let me go. or else you wouldn't have replied. amirite?

Her: Your freaking weird ! - Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Me: i am right! tell me, are you interested in larvae? wait, stupid question. i know EVERYONE is interested in larvae, hahaha. what i meant was, what kind of larvae are you into? Acherontia lachesis, myself.

Craigslist: Your posting has been flagged for removal. Approximately 98% of postings removed are in violation of craigslist posting guidelines. Please make sure you are abiding by all posted site rules, including our terms of use. 8-23-2011 12:33AM       

Train wreck seeks sideshow

8-22-2011 12:50 PM - http://erie.craigslist.org/w4m/2560342293.html

I'm a heavy smoker, and I equate my burgeoning alcoholism to barely grasping the reins of a drunken elephant stumbling downhill in a seemingly-endless Fibonacci sequence of shame and regret. I despise the Sun. I have an insatiable lust for attention and approval, which I will draw forth from your very soul in a succubean display that would make Lillith herself blush with shame, while conversely withholding same from you. I am seeking a young, wealthy, handsome, malleable, local single gent to clean up the inevitable messes, both physical and emotional, associated with the discrete quanta of awesomeness that is me. Ability to prepare Kosher vegan gluten-free hallal free-range organic locally-sourced meals for a peanut and shellfish allergy sufferer helpful, as well as nice abs, a driver's license, and a positive attitude. Send me your picture and I'll get back to you in between blackouts.

Dialogue #1:
Can I join you?

Me: which part of "young, wealthy, handsome, malleable, local single gent " applies most to you? what's your least favorite fraggle? are we all just dust in the wind? holla.

Dialogue #2:
Him: this is far and away the best thing i've read in years.  you sound amazing. Haha

Me: you know you want some of this. send me your pic, stats, SSN, and credit card number.

Him: hahahaha. Nice

Me: I'm waiting'

Dialogue #3:
Your ad is awesome!!  Especially "Ability to prepare Kosher vegan gluten-free hallal free-range organic locally-sourced meals for a peanut and shellfish allergy sufferer helpful, as well as nice abs, a driver's license, and a positive attitude"...Positive attitude.  LMAO!! I throughly enjoy alcohol and appreciate a good Fibonacci sequence.  Pic attached.  Abs up for judgement.

Me: at what point did I ask for a nude pic of you?

Dialogue #4:
Her: consider getting togethermeeting each other at Faith's joint in the city central area? specifically what color or shade are your eyes?

Me: they are a rich, bloodshot red surrounded by a jaundicy yellow. who is faith and where is her joint? are you even in erie, or bangladesh? city central area/ what the hell are you talking about?

Dialogue #5:
Him: There are at least two kinds of intelligence. One kind of intelligence is conventional intelligence. Conventional intelligence is a measure of the qualities in a human being that are most useful to the most powerful and wealthy in their society. Another kind of intelligence is Real intelligence. In relation to conventional intelligence, Real intelligence is a human beings awareness of what they actually are in relation to all that exists outside of the realm of thinking. Your post on craigslist is riddled and laden with that of society, that which does not exist outside the sphere of thought, the artificial. At the same time it announces your efforts to ignore, forget and destroy the only thing you have which is actually real, the only thing about you that is actually intelligent. You have no self-knowledge. See you soon at the WFC.........

Me: sounds like someone's been reading a lot of chuck palahniuk. would you like to come over and punch me a few times to remind me that i am real?

Him: You are the one that reads a lot, that is why you fit everything that comes to you into the matrix of what you know, and that would be what you have read because you have never lived or been awake. I do not parrot what I have read to others, I can not because I have read maybe one book in the last dozen years, I speak from the real world. As above so below, and as below so above. I know you because I know myself. All you know is what you think you and others are.

Me: your argument is fundamentally invalid; allow me to do some elucidatin' on yo ass, because it is clear to me that you fail to recognize the fundamental essential oneness of everything. for example, one does not "fit everything...into the matrix of what [one] knows." everything one knows IS the matrix. ever-growing, ever-fearful, interconnected, as Rumi says, in an infinitely connected web where everything is connected to everything else via junctions of infinitely reflective jewels.  you are, however, correct in your assumption of my being not awake. few amongst us are; very few. i could only aspire to one day join their ranks, awakened from the dream of perception to the daybreak of ultimate truth, but until then i only catch glimpses of it, like when you wake up in the middle of the night briefly to pee. I am, however, awake enough to know that i am asleep.

Dialogue #6:
Him: You have got to have posted, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most intriguing articles I've ever read on craigslist. What do you wish to know about me?

Me: What is your quest?

Miscellaneous comments:
Wow, what a post. Love it

Lol that was a very humorous post

you are totally my type .... hit me back if you are real ... no im not a spam reply ... hahaha im just into train wrecks

Craigslist: Your posting has been flagged for removal. Approximately 98% of postings removed are in violation of craigslist posting guidelines. Please make sure you are abiding by all posted site rules, including our terms of use. 8-23-2011 8:25 AM.       

Often, the 'for sale' section of Craigslist seems to feature widely available items no one wants, or exorbitantly priced red herrings. I thought, 'why not both?' Strangely, there are usually some folks in the market for whatever obscure bangles are being hawked (Hassam, anyone?). Apologies to Mel Brooks on the Perrier joke.

Free! (right here. right now)

8-22-2011 4:46 PM - http://erie.craigslist.org/zip/2561028259.html

Free! Right now, this post is free! Free and on your computer monitor. Right now, like Fatboy Slim Right Now, not like Van Hagar Right Now. Free like OJ and Casey free, not free like Direct TV NFL Sunday Ticket free with purchase free. Like World B. Free free, not Freejack free. Because I'd like to punch you right in your Direct TV free and World B. Free Freejack free. Right now.

[no responses]

Craigslist: Your posting has been flagged for removal. Approximately 98% of postings removed are in violation of craigslist posting guidelines. Please make sure you are abiding by all posted site rules, including our terms of use. 8-22-2011 10:40PM       

For sale: Canned Erie Air

8-22-2011 3:14 PM - http://erie.craigslist.org/clt/2560262214.html

Own a piece of Erie! Mason jars filled with fresh Erie air, filled at the location of your choosing. Great gift for the homesick displaced Erieite, or, treat yourself whenever and wherever the urge strikes! Popular locations include the Perry Monument (our best seller- "Perry Air"), Erie County Courthouse, and the men's room at Rum Runner's. $49.95/1 or 2 for $99.95. Shipping not incl. Email Bartholomew for details.

Dialogue #1:
: Hello there could ya get hold of me (814) [redacted]

Me: We are a very tech-forward green business and do not use a telephone, only email. Telephones kill trees. So how many jars you need? And where from? I understand the air around the old gudgeonville bridge is particularly valued this time of year.

Priceless community asset for sale

8-22-2011 3:10 PM - http://erie.craigslist.org/atq/2560254712.html

Once in a lifetime opportunity! For sale: one slightly used American Impressionist masterpiece. Original frame gone. Rebacked 20-25 years ago. Good condition. Last on the market in 1903-04. Motivated seller; serious inquiries only.

Dialogue #1:
: where is located Priceless community asset for sale! 314619925921588706

Me: I like you already, [redacted]. You're smart to email me about this. American impressionist seascapes are hot this year. Very hot.  I can just tell you're sharp as a stick. I'm pretty sure i could get this for you for a little taste of the action, say, $100,000 USD. I could probably score this for you in the neighborhood of 5 Million USD. Email me back with the preferred method of payment and we'll make arrangements.

The "Missed Connections" portion of Craigslist may be one of the most authentic and honest parts of the site that still remains. Think about it-- it's not worth the time for the pornobots to spam with fake '" saw you at the coffee shop" posts because there is little indicating that posters in this section are looking for porn. Therefore, the comments are pretty sincere. Except for the one I posted.

Missed connection

8-22-2011 3:08 PM - http://erie.craigslist.org/mis/2560249102.html

You: mid-40s attractive woman wearing denim jacket w/Kansas patch, yellow mesh tee, teal stretch pants, and combat boots hanging around the Erie Reader tent last Saturday at the Kansas show. Me: member of Kansas.

[no responses]

There is a rule, an internet rule - it's called Rule 34, actually, and it states that "if it exists, there is porn of it on the internet." And it never fails - even when talking to robots, the most disparate and incongruous subjects of any Craigslist post are assumed to be sexual in nature. Granted, many times they are. But not always.

Seeking conservative friends

8-22-2011 3:57PM - http://erie.craigslist.org/cas/2560355921.html

I've got access to a rope and pulley system, a midget, a Saint Bernard, a Mexican wrestling mask, and a case of Canola Oil for about 30 minutes Friday next. It'd be helpful if you had a camera to help capture the moment, as mine is covered in an oily residue from Friday last. Taking suggestions and participants. Serious only.

Dialogue #1:
: Hi- spend the night at my home in downtown Erie?

Me: i'd like that very much. it would help if you had some of those painter's drop cloths. you see, i think if i can attach the st bernard to the rope to the spring-loaded pulley system (keeping it well-lubed with canola oil) and get her to maintain constant tension on the whole works, it's almost like a dynamic braking system, recapturing lost energy. i have these really huge batteries that i like to keep charged (none of your business what i use them for) and i use the mexican wrestling mask to scare the st bernard (he hates el santo). the midget? well, he's from mexico too (he brought me the mask) but he has a PhD from Mexico State University in Renewable Energy, so he's technically overseeing everything. give me your address and i'll try to bring all parties together as soon as practicable.

Her: Hallo, Sorry, but it is not possible to send you my pics now. Recently I uploaded a photo on the dating site: [redacted webcam address]. Site totally free. I would just love to have a dinner with you.

Me: Well i don't have the internets at my place so i can't visit your website, although i'm sure your webcam is the paragon of modesty and allure. perchance we meet at starbucks downtown post haste for latte and st bernards? i can bring my pulleys if you'd like to inspect them. they are in good working order, i assure you.

Her: I am waiting for your message on the web-site: [redacted webcam address] My account is [redacted]. If you want to meet with me in real life, you have to set up an account on the web-site.
You can find out my phone number there.

Me: well i did as you said but i can't find you on the website even though i submitted my credit card number and a dna sample, and now my st bernard needs to feed again so i must take my leave of you fair lady. i'll just wait outside starbucks on September 1 at 8:30 am. you can recognize me by the carnation in my lapel, and the st bernard. i feel the connection here. we have a certain energy. we've got a thing, and it's called radar love. we've got a wave in the air. radar love.

Dialogue #2:
: So I'm a little sarcastic, and cant stand people who dont have any common sense, besides that i love and enjoy life, i am definitely an optimistic person i also love music.all kinds. I am not a drinker, only on special occasions.and Wednesdays.lol i have my own place and am pretty self sufficient person, but cant wait for some

Me: what manner of clockwork be you?

Her: Hello, thx for responding. I liked your psoting.I get off my job in a couple of hours. tell me if you think you might like to hook up. Ill send a pic when I get back to my computer. :)
Email me back!! - Sent from my iPhone4

Miscellaneous Comments:
Hi how are you? would like to get to know you since we both kind of looking for the same thing what do you think

hit me up sometime. came across your post on craigslist. hit me up on yahoomssger at [redacted] or aolmessenger at [redacted]

I don't know about you, but when I think of "rants and raves" (the Craigslist section where this ad was posted) I think about Suicidal Tendencies. So I posted the entire lyrics of their classic song, "Institutionalized." This rant garnered a rave. Or vice versa.

8. Institutionalized!

8-23-2011 10:08 AM - http://erie.craigslist.org/rnr/2561471834.html

Sometimes I try to do things but it just doesn't work out the way I want it to, and I get real frustrated and then like I try hard to do it, and I like, take my time but it just doesn't work out the way I want it to. It's like, I concentrate on it real hard, but it just doesn't work out. And everything I do and everything I try, it never turns out. It's like, I need time to figure these things out, but there's always someone there going ?hey mike, you know we've been noticing you've been having a lot of problems lately, you know? You need to maybe get away. And like, maybe you should talk about it, you'll feel a lot better.? And I'm all like ?oh, nah, it's ok, you know. I'll figure it out. Just leave me alone, I'll figure it out, you know? I'm just working on it by myself.? And they go ?well, you know, if you wanna talk about it, I'll be here, you know? And you'll probably feel a lot better if you talk about it. So why don't you talk about it?? I go ?no, I don't want to! I'm ok. I'll figure it out myself!? But they just keep bugging me, they just keep bugging me, and it builds up inside. So you're gonna be institutionalized.You'll come out brainwashed with bloodshot eyes. You won't have anything to say.They'll brainwash you until you see their way. I'm not crazy - IN AN INSTITUTION!!!You're the one that's crazy - IN AN INSTITUTION!!!You're driving me crazy - IN AN INSTITUTION!!!They stuck me in an institution,Said it was the only solution. To give me the needed professional help to protect me from the enemy, myself. I was in my room and I was just like staring at the wall thinking about everything, but then again I was thinking about nothing. And then my mom came in, and I didn't even know she was there. She called my name and I didn't hear her and then she started screaming ?Mike, Mike!? And I go ?what? What's the matter?? She goes ?what's the matter with you?? I go ?there's nothing wrong, mom.? Shes all ?don't tell me that! You're on drugs!? I go ?no mom, I'm not on drugs. I'm ok, I'm just thinking, you know? Why don't you get me a Pepsi?? She goes ?No! You're on drugs!? I go ?mom, I'm ok. I'm just thinking.? She goes ?No! You're not thinking, you're on drugs! Normal people don't be acting that way!? I go ?mom, just get me a Pepsi! Please, all I want is a Pepsi!? And she wouldn't give it to me! All I wanted was a Pepsi, just one Pepsi, and she wouldn't give it to me! Just a Pepsi!  They give you a white shirt with long sleeves! Tied around your back, you're treated like thieves! Drug you up because they're lazy! It's too much work to help a crazy! I'm not crazy - IN AN INSTITUTION!!! You're the one who's crazy - IN AN INSTITUTION!!! You're driving me crazy - IN AN INSTITUTION!!! They stuck me in an institution, Said it was the only solution, To give me the needed professional help, to protect me from the enemy, myself. I'm sitting in my room, when my mom and my dad came in. they pulled up a chair and they sat down. They go ?mike, we need to talk to you.? And I go ?ok, what's the matter?? They go ?me and your mom, we've noticed that lately you've been having a lot of problems, and you've been going off for no reason, and we're afraid you're going to hurt somebody, and we're afraid you're going to hurt yourself. So we decided that it would be in your best interest if we put you somewhere where you could get the help that you need.? And I go ?wait, what are you talking about, WE decided? MY best interests? How do you know what MY best interest is? How can you say what MY best interest is? What are you trying to say? I'M crazy? When I went to YOUR schools, I went to YOUR churches, I went to YOUR institutional learning facilities? So how can you say I'M crazy?? They say they're gonna fix my brain. Alleviate my suffering and my pain.  But by the time they fix my head,
Mentally I'll be dead. I'm not crazy - IN AN INSTITUTION!!! You're the one who's crazy - IN AN INSTITUTION!!! You're driving me crazy - IN AN INSTITUTION!!!They stuck me in an institution,
Said it was the only solution. To give me the needed professional help, to protect me from the enemy, myself. Doesn't matter, I'll probably get hit by a car anyways.

Him: Ok. what was your point? JK. LOL. I hope. The world is going to shit. Period. Every other commercial on TV is about an anti-depressant they want you to take. And if the one you are taking isn't working then take this one too. Talk about drugging up people. Shit, give me a puff or two off of a joint over that shit any day. At least in an hour or two I will be back to normal. And if you want to know. I have serious back problems and four times the doctor demanded I take anti-depressants if I want to receive my other medications. Actually piss tested me to make sure I was taking them. The last one was Zoloft. Talk about messing me up. Told the doctor it was screwing my mind up and providing no help with the pain. Then he doubled the dose and again demanded I take it because he did not believe it was messing me up. Then things got really bad. Before I flushed that Zoloft shit down the toilet I had become mean and nasty to my family and friends, I was not eating, I could not stay awake during the day or sleep at night, I was having hallucinations, I wanted to dig up my dead dog (she had passed at the age of 15, 6 months prior) and I was loosing time (like blacking out). I went out one night and lost a 9 hours. Came to in my shower and I did not know what time or day it was. Put 75 miles on the car I could not account for. I left my house at 6pm. That I remember. My friend said I showed up at his place at 7pm and left at 11pm. It was 3am when I came to in the shower. That was the day I flushed that shit down the toilet. BTW, I hope no one ate the fish for a week or two. They were probably pretty whacked out. That is and was the last time I will ever take an anti-depressant. Told this to the doctor and he booted me. Get out and don't come back I was told. So much for his medical oath. So, beware when they want to alter your mood. The fact is it fixes nothing. The problems are still there even if you don't give a shit.
As for me, I will leave you with a friends favorite phrase. "Puff Puff Pass".

Me: Missing time? Blackouts? Sounds to me like all the classic symptoms of alien abduction.


Cory Vaillancourt is a brilliant writer/complete hack and can be complimented/heckled at cVaillancourt@ErieReader.com. 

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