When congress screws up your love life

craigslist personals bannedMost people still don’t like to admit they met on a dating site, although more and more do. Hoping to run into “the one” randomly, at the right time has odds about as good as the lottery, or getting hit by a self-driving Uber.

This week, in the tumultuous chaos of Trump’s Washington, between firing and hiring and budget fights and gun protests, Congress passed a law March 21, 2018  and killed the only truly free dating site on the Internet: the Craigslist personals.

Now instead of ads in M4W and MW4MW etc- all that’s left is “Missed connections.”

The rest have this message:

US Congress just passed HR 1865, “FOSTA”, seeking to subject websites to criminal and civil liability when third parties (users) misuse online personals unlawfully.

Any tool or service can be misused. We can’t take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services, so we are regretfully taking craigslist personals offline. Hopefully we can bring them back some day.

To the millions of spouses, partners, and couples who met through craigslist, we wish you every happiness!

I stay pretty informed, and I had no idea this was happening.

In the senate- only Wyden (D-OR) and Paul (R-KY) voted no. In the house- Local Warren Davidson was one of the 25 No votes. BTW- the senate site is WAY better than the house.

FOSTA stands for Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017.

And, while I’m sure Craigslist has led to some prostitution and all kinds of other illicit behavior, there are obviously other sites that rate prostitutes and provide “GFE” – girl friend experiences- that have zero legitimate dating ambitions. They will probably stay in existence.

For me, this move by the nanny state, saddens me. Back in 2009, I posted the following ad on Craigslist:

Life works better as a couple. (Downtown Dayton)

age: 44

If there is one thing that becomes more and more obvious as I get older, it’s that our society and our success comes as a couple.
The bit about behind every successful man is an amazing woman- and visa versa- isn’t folklore- it’s as real as it gets.
I really don’t mind being alone- but I’m tired of losing friends to spouses and children, I’m tired of going to music, culture, film alone- and cooking for one is the pits (esp. when I actually can cook worth a damn).So- who would you be coupling up with?
A bright guy, with many interests including: art, architecture, music, pop-culture, advertising, design, photography, politics (liberal), mass media, urban development, reading, old houses, dogs, SCUBA, ice hockey, motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, theater, film, food, pilates, computers, the internet, writing, travel.
I’m 5’11”, non-smoking, non-drinking, 205lbs (which drops when I am cooking more at home), and, this is important: a secular humanist/atheist/jew. If you want to convert me- forget it. If you don’t get it- Judaism is a culture as well as a religion.
I’ve got a bachelors degree in Business. Regret not getting an MBA or a doctorate. I’m a veteran – and proud of it.
Never married, no kids.

You: able to write in complete sentences, would rather walk over broken glass than; watch NASCAR, listen to Country, vote Republican, or smoke.
Employed. Baggage minimal, and matching. Able to carry on a conversation, work a room on your own, able to receive as well as give a great massage. Have a passport. Willing to try new things.

Write me- meet me for coffee- what do you have to loose?

And a woman, with two wonderful girls, ages 4 and 9, wrote back. We met at Tanks for lunch. She liked their Reuben. I liked her smile, her eyes, and her boldness. I wouldn’t say she lacked a filter, but she made things very clear. We started dating, 2 years later we were living together. After 5 and some, she moved out- a block away, we still acted like a family when it came to kids, dogs, and having each others backs for about another year and a half. All thanks to Craigslist.
We traveled to Paris, to Boston, to NYC to Disneyworld, to LA. – to Fallingwater.
All this, thanks to a free ad on Craigslist. You know the saying, if you don’t play- you can’t win. Craigslist was a winner for us.
There are still some free dating sites out there- Plentyoffish.com and OKCupid.com are two that come to mind- but, all have paid options, and various matching algorithms. That was the beauty of Craigslist- it wasn’t anything different than a bulletin board at a coffee house – totally random- based on geography.
She was the longest and best relationship I’ve ever had. Her kids meant the world to me.
Now, there is no more Craigslist personals- and there may not be another woman like her- or there may be- we just won’t meet on Craigslist- thanks to Congress.
That ad was 11 years ago. I’d just have to change a few things to it today to run it again- but alas, I’d have no place to post it- other than here. I’m up 10 lbs, and, I’d probably claim 6′
The world of online dating has turned into swipe culture- with sites like Tinder and Bumble reducing it down to looks and photography skills. Almost all the sites are now owned by one company, the Match Group. The problem with corporate dating sites is they control the experience- with Craigslist- it was up to you and the community. Now Congress has ruined that.
Of all the dating sites I’ve tried, the one I liked the best was OKCupid- and the way it “matched” people. Another Harvard based Internet startup, it was originally a market research company masquerading as a dating site. One of the problems with asking most people deeply personal questions and getting them to answer honestly, is they won’t- unless there is something in it for them. OKCupid- asked a question, often contributed by the community- and you would answer how you would answer it- how you would like your potential mate to answer it and how important it was to you. Lying about these things wouldn’t help you meet the right person- so you answered honestly. It was up to you if you wanted to make your answer public or not- but if it was private- it would still help tell you who matched up best.
That said, we don’t always know that what we think we want- is really the best thing for us. Some ladies have a broken “manpicker” and some men “are shit magnets”- and vice versa…
The way OKCupid attracted people in the early days were funny surveys- much like the same ones Cambridge Analytical used to harvest the pscyhographic data everyone is up in arms about right now. Those got discontinued by the corporate overlords of Match. Those surveys told you what kind of motorcycle was the right one for you (my results were pretty close- a Yamaha FJ 1100- close to my BMW R1200RT) and the infamous “Slut test” where I scored… I don’t remember. Now, I refer to the site as OKStupid- since it has been dumbed-down. 
All that said, the real reason that Craigslist bears the brunt of Congress’s brute force is probably because Craigslist has no friends, other than its users. It destroyed the revenue stream from Classified ads in the local newspaper, changed the face of real estate advertising by owner, upset the job listings, ticket scalping became a business, and even saved landfills by making it easy to give away stuff that might end up in the trash.
It also was an essential tool for community organizers- looking to promote events.
Part of the problem was that since it’s debut in 1995, it never really evolved as a platform- allowing others to specialize and replace it with new and improved versions for specific areas- StubHub, Zillow, AirBNB, Monster, Etsy etc- all did the same thing only better.
But, that was the beauty of Craigslist. It was simple and community driven.
And, now, it’s no longer a place to meet your mate.
And, I still believe life works better as a couple….
but, now, the only place I can post this ad is here.
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