Making friends with dudes is hard. Ask anyone over the age of 21 and they will tell you this. Once you graduate college and enter the real world, your friends aren't just handed to you. You either have friends that you knew before entering the real world and make more friends through them, or you just have no friends and are fucked. There are no classes to meet people in, no frats to join, not intramural Pokémon tournaments to find a mob of like-minded nerds to squad around with, no clubs where you can find people who are into the same niche stuff you’re into. Sure, you have a job, but the only bond you're guaranteed to share with your coworkers is a begrudging knowledge that you are not independently wealthy and therefore need to earn money to survive. Do you really want to grab beers with the fat dude down in IT who plays competitive League of Legends and owns a fedora for every day of the week? No and he doesn't want to be friends with you either because your fedora game is excessively wack. And you can't just go up to some random dude in a bar and expect to become homies with the guy. That is 100% confirmed creepy and not going to work.
This is why, in the Age of Information™, making friends on the Internet has become a godsend. If you're active on Twitter, there's a good chance you've found yourself gravitating towards users you don't know who are into the same stuff as you. If they live in your city, then you can meet up with them without it being weird. It's kinda like cheating in a way—Twitter is like having a direct line into someone's thoughts, their dumb jokes and their bad pictures of whatever. It's a glimpse into someone else's life that allows you to effectively get a free sample before you buy.
Enter Craigslist, the classified section of the endless newspaper that is the Internet. It's a place where you can find an apartment, buy a couch or hire a stranger to shove a gerbil up your butt while you scream about your parents never loving you. But amongst the missed connections, scams to trick you into buying a car that's been totaled twice (show me the Carfax lol) and drug dealers posting ads in code using extremely juvenile slang, there is a small subset of people who are genuinely trying to find friendship on Craigslist. They exist under the Strictly Platonic m4m (male for male) section of the CL personals, and they are some of the most unique and interesting pieces of digital flotsam and jetsam that I have ever encountered. You can see a bunch of my personal favorite in the above gallery.
Though the vast majority of the Strictly Platonic posts were thinly-veiled ads for male prostitutes, or dudes looking to "swap massages," or "masturbate together," or otherwise kinda-sorta do sexual stuff with each other, there exist some people who have taken stock of their lives and decided the best course of action is to post an ad looking for friends on a section of a website mostly dedicated to dudes looking to bone each other. (NOT THAT THERE'S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT. THAT'S DOPE IF THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE INTO. THERE ARE JUST SOME OF US WHO WOULD PREFER IF YOU KEPT IT TO THE SEEKING/CASUAL ENCOUNTERS/MISC ROMANCE SECTIONS OF THE SITE, WHICH ARE CLEARLY LABELED ON THE CRAIGSLIST HOMEPAGE.)
If Twitter is a dry run for meeting someone IRL and online dating is like online shopping, then meeting someone off of Craigslist is like buying something on, well, Craigslist.
After looking through more of these posts than I'd care to mention, I decided to post my own. I put together something that I thought might reveal a vague amount of my personality, while keeping things general enough so that some Craigslist Killer couldn't deduce where I lived or who I was from my post:
looking for some bros - m4m - 24 (williamsburg/bushwick)
twenty-something writer looking to make some friends outside of my current social circle. i'm a gigantic rap nerd who loves meeting new and interesting people. I enjoy dumb jokes, the internet, and disc two of diplomatic immunity. let's grab a beer or and talk about life, or 420 if you're into that sort of thing. this is strictly platonic. i am not a cop.
The last part was key because I was talking about smoking weed on the Internet and I wanted to clear up ANY speculation that I might have been a cop (I'm not FYI). I topped everything off with a picture of Cam'ron looking into some unknown distance while wearing a cape.
Within ten minutes, I got my first response: "What up," it read in full. Not enough information. I refused to make the first (re: third) move. The next morning, I got another reply, this time in broken English. My third reply was from a dude who told me he respected the fact that I'd mentioned Diplomatic Immunity in my ad. CUE THE AIR HORNS. NEW BEST FRIEND ALERT. I emailed him back, but he hasn't responded yet, so maybe he isn't my new best friend. Can we get a refund on the air horns? I ended up getting two more responses, but one was someone explicitly trying to fuck me and another was someone who was less explicitly, but still fairly transparently trying to fuck me. Besides that, nothing. Either my post had gotten buried under the deluge of other Strictly Platonic posts, or I wasn't interesting enough on Craigslist to warrant any responses other than vague salutations or sexual trolls.
My main takeaway from my experience trying to make friends on Craigslist is that it's probably not the greatest idea. Craigslist is a good place to seek specifics: a Prius, a pair of Jordans, someone to dress up in a maid costume while whipping you, but it's not a place for finding something as abstract as a real connection with another human being. I guess, you can't really effectively communicate your "you-ness" in an ad. There's no way someone would be able to tell if we were going to like each other based off whether or not I liked disc two of Diplomatic Immunity.
If Twitter is a dry run for meeting someone IRL and online dating is like online shopping, then meeting someone off of Craigslist is like buying something on, well, Craigslist. It's sketchier and rewards specific objectives. Perhaps I could have had more success if I'd suggested a specific activity, like finding a person to kick a soccer ball around with at a certain time at a certain place or someone to play Magic: The Gathering with. Those are ultimately transactional relationships: easily definable, where two people come together to accomplish a goal. Someone saying, "Hey, be my friend?" Not so much. It just seems desperate and sad. I guess I wouldn't have responded to my Craigslist ad either.
Drew Millard wrote this while gone off that specific feeling of comfort and security one gets from platonically cuddling with another man. You can read more of his work on Noisey and follow him on Twitter here.