It’s about community

The element that separates Craigslist from the rest

“Are you single? Maybe you’ll say hello next time …” poster to Craigslist’s Missed ConnectionsCraigslist isn’t the only company offering classified ads on the Internet; nor is it the most successful, financially speaking. For example, eBay, which owns a 25 percent share of Craigslist, has become a multi-billion dollar firm by allowing people to auction items that formerly could only be unloaded via the local daily newspaper. What separates Craigslist from eBay and similar sites, the thing that accounts for the list’s incredible popularity, is the concept of “community.”

We’re not talking cyber community here—the term is used in the old fashioned sense. When you auction an item on eBay, the purchaser may often be from the other side of the country. Craigslist specializes in face-to-face transactions—you’re going to meet the buyer in real space and time, right here in Reno. That goes for everything from automobiles to personal ads, but ironically enough, the best place to get a taste of any particular Craigslist community is in “Missed Connections,” where the participants by definition have never met at all.

There’s a certain darkness around the edges of many of the Missed Connection posts on Craigslist Reno, a sense that the Biggest Little City is, for many people, the last resort, a place to get lost, the end of the road.

“I met you at Luna in San Diego,” writes one poster to a woman whose name shall remain anonymous here but is plainly listed in the post’s title. “You said you were from Reno. I meant what I said that night. I would like to get in touch with you.” He could be the freakin’ Night Stalker, but nevertheless, a couple of days later, someone posts the woman’s phone number.

Another poster, a woman from the East Coast, searches for her children’s deadbeat father, whose last known whereabouts are in Reno. “Since 1999 this man has not paid child support for our two children ages 9 and 7,” she writes. “He is very elusive and has moved quite a bit. In order for me to finally get child support, I need his address, and to find out if he is working.” From the detailed description she posts, you just know someone will turn the rat bastard in.

Although some of the postings can be dark, I mainly enjoy perusing Missed Connections for cheap laughs, which seem to never be in short supply on Craigslist Reno.

“When I drove by, you waved and smiled and I smiled back,” writes one woman who happened to be cruising by a Reno construction site one day. “Looking at you from my rear view mirror, you stood there still looking and smiling. I was in a car with California plates. Are you single? Maybe you’ll say hello next time …”

What are the chances that her potential paramour even logs on to Craigslist? Who knows? At any rate, a couple of days later, she gets a reply of sorts.

“Maybe he did a double take because you had California plates,” a man writes. “Maybe he wants you to go back to fucking California like the rest of us do. Bitch.”

Now that’s what I call community. Reno may be the Biggest Little City, but no one ever said it was the friendliest.