Once, back in the ancient days of 2001, I was staying with some friends in San Diego who were all in a punk band together. A friend of mine drove down from San Francisco to visit us – but, as he bragged incessantly over the next several days, he didn’t drive. Instead, he found someone on a thing called Craigslist. This person was driving from San Francisco to San Diego, too, and he rode along with them, in exchange for providing gas money.

This was, I thought, pretty cool. Most of the internet, as I had encountered it up to this point, was full of people talking about stuff or trying to sell me things, both of which I felt like I had too much of in regular meatspace to want to experience in a more virtual setting. This was something else: The internet had connected a person who wanted a ride with a person who could give a ride, and the result was that now, in real space, we could all go to the beach together.

I never used Craigslist to hitchhike. Based on the volume of unsolicited sexual offers that poured into my email inbox even when my female friends and I were looking for something as innocuous as an apartment, I hesitated to cruise for rides on the internet. And back in San Diego, as the weekend wore on, a few cracks had appeared in my friend’s hyperbolic “the magic of internet found me a cheap ride to San Diego” story.