There is a lot of talk about how social media is dividing communities and spreading harmful misinformation. But every now and then, something magical happens. Something that can only happen through Internet Magic and it’s pure, and beautiful, and a reminder of why we don’t set our computers on fire. Take, for instance, the story of how a 4 year-old boy named Josh won a Battle of Joshes with feats of strength and a pool noodle.
It began last year, when 22-year-old Josh Swain of Arizona posted screenshots of a Facebook message he sent to other Josh Swains on his Twitter account. “You’re probably wondering why I’ve gathered you all here today,” he wrote. “Because we all share the same names?” replied one of the other nine Joshes. “Precisely,” replied OG Josh. “4/24/2021, 12:00 PM. Meet at these coordinates, (40. 822-3286, – 96. 798-2002) we fight, whoever wins gets to keep the name, everyone else has to change their name, you have a year to prepare, good luck.”
The original screenshots, which Swain later attributed to “pandemic boredom” on the Josh Swain Battle sub-Reddit, made their rounds on various social media outlets, turning into a meme in its own right. But then, what started as a joke came gloriously to life, right on schedule. Swain posted event details on sub-Reddit r/JoshSwainBattle on April 20, four days before the event, giving updated (but nearby) coordinates and urging people to come masked and armed with pool noodles.
Hundreds gathered, including dozens of Joshes (and even another Josh Swain, whom event organizer Josh Swain bested in an epic rock-paper-scissor battle for Josh Swain supremacy), according to NPR. But the real winner of the day was the victor of the All-Josh melée event, 4-year-old Joshua Vinson Jr. of Omaha, Nebraska.
Dubbed “Little Josh,” he was award a plastic trophy, championship belt, and Burger King crown to mark his victory. When asked to speak to the outcome, Little Josh, the King of All Joshes declared, “I fight with everyone [unintelligible] and now I win!” The crowd rejoiced and lifted him aloft to even greater cheers.
Speaking with Channel8ABC, the wee king’s father, Joshua Vinson Sr. said, “He’s going to remember this for the rest of his life.”
But perhaps just as good as this pure and heartwarming silly tale of IRL memes and little children winning the day is the fact that the Josh Fight was good not only for the Josh community and the online community, but the local community. Swain encouraged participants to bring non-perishable items for the Food Bank of Lincoln and set up a “Help pay legal fees for Josh Swains to change their name” fund that actually went to Children’s Hospital and Medical Center Foundation in Omaha. The food drive garnered several hundred pounds of food, according to The Lincoln Journal Star and, as of press time, participants raised nearly $12,000 for the Children’s Hospital. All this is pretty lucky for Nebraska, since Swain told the Star that the coordinates were chosen entirely at random.
According to the Social Security Administration, the name “Joshua” entered America’s top 10 baby names in 1979, and there it remained for the next 30 years, reaching its zenith in the early 2000s as the third most popular name for baby boys in the country. While the name has now entered a decline, it nevertheless remains in the Top 50. All this to say: there are a lot of Joshes in this fine country of ours. Thank goodness the Josh Swain had the clear-eyed vision to make sure we know who the real Joshes are. But, surely, Little Josh is the realest of them all.
All hail Little Josh! Long live the king!