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The type of apps and websites one visits directly speaks to the stage of life the person in question is occupying at the time. For instance, if you’re reading this site you’re a white quasi-libertarian male who graduated sometime in the last three years and believes that other people care about what you have to say (hint: we don’t). On the other hand, if you frequent parenting or retirement planning, you’re more likely to be older. One of the sites/apps indicative of old assholes is Nextdoor.
For those unaware of Nextdoor, it is a site built on becoming a neighborhood community message board, and is the leading purveyor of free lawn refuse bags and latent racism. Need a not-so-gently used bookcase for free? Nextdoor. Want to make sure everyone knows you saw a hispanic person driving down your street? Nextdoor. Are those firecrackers or gunshots? Nextdoor has way more hypotheses than you need.
I thought I had seen all the lame used home goods and pearl-clutching Nextdoor had to offer, until the other day when I found someone trying Nextdoor for a new purpose: trolling for ass.
“I’m 34, 5’9, good looking guy that is looking for that someone special, a nice girl. I catch hell every holiday season because out of all my brothers and sister, I’m still a bachelor. The noise that I hear from my mother is getting old “when are you going to settle down”, “when are you giving me a baby”, blah blah blah.
I also have a job, a car and love pizza. I also know how to make some good queso matched with tacos. I like quiet walks in my hood, prefer HEB vs Randall’s, love to keep it local and a fan of rom coms”
Seems like a normal enough personal ad. But again, this appeared on Nextdoor, not Match or OKCupid or even Craigslist. This was not the neighborhood drama of “whose dog shit in my yard” that I’m accustomed to seeing. At first, I was mad. Why would he pollute my feed of middle-aged suburban nonsense with a heartfelt plea for love? Then I got curious. Did this guy really think it was going to work? Had he struck out so badly on Tinder and Bumble that this was his only avenue left? No. The answer had to be that he had never heard of them and this was his only interaction with strangers on the Internet.
How could this possibly come to be, that a 34-year-old man with good taste in grocery stores and bad taste in movies could have come this far without encountering dating apps? Well sit back and let me tell you the saga of Josh from Nextdoor.
Josh grew up in your average Tier 2 town in the central time zone. You probably heard of it, maybe drove through it, but you probably don’t know anyone from it or have a desire to visit. Josh was one of two kids, raised by a stressed, over-medicated mother and a borderline nonexistent father. He didn’t have any friends to speak of, and was for all intents and purposes socially inept, despite his older sister’s best efforts to dress him up and have tea parties with him.
Sports never interested Josh much, but his parents enjoyed the prospect of having someone else look after him for a couple of hours after school, so they signed him up for the youth soccer league. Josh didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the kids, and of course Earl Woods McCoachdad didn’t give two shits about the bland and boring kid who half-assed it in drills. Therefore nobody really noticed when Josh stopped showing up.
Nobody cared where Josh went, so he started exploring in the woods behind the school and soccer fields. He could hike for hours there and find the peace that had been denied him for his entire young life. That was, of course, until it happened.
He stayed a little longer in the woods than usual, and night fell (mostly because nobody ever felt the need to tell Josh about daylight savings time). Most people assume windowless vans are the choice of predators, but predators hide in plain sight, like the late model Honda Accord the men drove. Josh didn’t put up much of a fight. In fact, he welcomed the new adventure at first. Josh slept through the night, including when the two men in the front seat told the border guards that the sleeping child in the back was a nephew.
Once across the border, the men were able to take Josh to the modern day equivalent of a flesh market. That day, there was a sinister owner of a Guatemalan maquiladora. The work was hard, and the callouses on Josh’s fingers grew thick quickly. He didn’t miss much from his life back home, but stitching together the teddy bears meant for children more loved than him did give him a twinge of sadness.
The matron of the boys dormitory was harsh and cruel, using each of the boys for her own devices. Had Josh stuck around, this might have proven a better and more caring resource than his cold and distant father thrusting a pamphlet in his hands, but for the first time in his life, Josh took the initiative. After the truck delivered the week’s supplies, Josh hid underneath by hanging onto the wooden bed. At the nearest stoplight, he climbed in to find himself amidst rations and arms headed for the port.
Once the goods were unloaded, Josh was discovered. Fortunately, he wasn’t immediately reported as an escapee and a brigand. Unfortunately, there was a need for him in Eritrea. On the slowboat to Eastern Africa, Josh learned how to assemble and disassemble arms, and joined in with the limited drilling they were able to perform on the deck of the ship.
In country, Josh found his calling. Fueled by cocaine and hallucinogens, he earned the nickname Mawt Abyad. He is also rumored to have inspired the adage, “when a man points a gun at you, you start to negotiate / when a child points a gun at you, you start to run.” He fought hard and well, but was eventually captured by UN observers attached to the Ethiopian army in Badme.
Josh fell into a deep depression. For the first time in his life, Josh felt like he belonged somewhere. He had a sense of camaraderie, a sense of place, both of which disappeared when the war ended and Josh was extracted by the well-meaning UN. Deemed too dangerous to be housed with other teenagers, he was isolated. His mental wounds were deemed too deep.
For the next sixteen years, Josh was studied by the top psychological rehabilitation specialists available in The Hague. Some of the damage was erased by the years of substance abuse, but the deeper scars remained. Group therapy helped, but not as much as the more experimental therapies he was subjected to. He still goes into a berserker rage any times he hears “Danger” by Mystikal, but officials figured there was no real risk of him hearing that again anyway.
Josh was released into the care of a distant relative, with little memory of his middle teens. As far as he is aware, he spent the last decade of his life as a noncom in the 7th Civil Support Command. He then decided to move on with his life. The first step: find a companion.
Having no phone and only access to acceptable websites, he had never heard of a way to communicate with the opposite sex. However, his aunt spends a lot of her time communicating with neighbors through Nextdoor. One day, after leaving her browser open, Josh sat down and typed the subject… “Need A Girlfriend.” .