Op-Ed: Josh Fight, A Display of Positivity in Viral Media


Josh Swain reached out to other Joshes on Facebook. Photo by Edan Zinn

Grace Papas, Executive Editor

What started as a simple joke turned into a country-wide meme and a display of public unity and laughter as hundreds of people flocked to a park in Nebraska on Saturday last week to engage in an intense pool noodle brawl over the name Josh.

The joke started at the beginning of the pandemic with a college student from Arizona named Josh Swain. The boredom of quarantine had settled in, so the 22-year old gathered a FaceBook group of others who shared his name, and challenged them all to a duel.

Swain gave his fellow Joshes simple instructions: “Precisely 4/24/2021, 12:00 PM, meet at these coordinates,” he wrote, sharing coordinates for Lincoln, Nebraska. “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 joke soon went viral over social media, and soon enough, this fight became a popular meme and would turn into an epic battle between hundreds of people.

The planning began, and one year later, everyone gathered on Saturday last week at Air Park in Nebraska.

One Josh in attendance, Josh Kelsey, said he was blown away by how big the event got.

“I was expecting 30 people at max,” Kelsey told the Lincoln Star Journal. “This is insane.”

The festivities started with a grueling and righteous battle of Rock, Paper, Scissors between Josh Swain from Arizona and Josh Swain from Omaha, Nebraska. The Arizona college student won the match, earning the right to his name once and for all.

The ultimate fight for the name of Josh was determined by an all-out noodle fight, and won by an unlikely candidate. The winner of the fight was a four-year-old boy named Josh Vinson Jr., who the other Joshes and the Internet now fondly refer to as “Little Josh.”

This fight wasn’t just aimless excitement. The event raised money for the Children’s Hospital and Medical Center Foundation in Omaha. In addition to raising $8,000 for the hospital, the Joshes also donated nearly a ton of food for the Food Bank of Lincoln, according to the Journal

Swain told the Journal the event was like having “an out-of-body experience.”

“I’m sitting in my hotel room alone, just trying to act like I wasn’t with 2,000 people just fighting for their name. It’s incredible,” Swain said after the battle. 

Not only does this story demonstrate the power of the Internet, and boredom when put together, but also serves as a reminder of the importance of laughter, and fun.

With everything going on in the world, things like this can serve as a diversion from the distressing headlines. Sometimes it’s good to take a step back and take a moment to laugh, to make the most of your situation, and to take part in the good. It becomes easier to lose sight of it, but it’s still there as long there’s motivation to look.