In our Love App-tually series, Mashable shines a light into the foggy world of online dating. It is cuffing season, after all. Once upon a time — the early s — Craigslist's Missed Connections section was the go-to place for charming, quirky or weird tales of momentary romance.
Take this quintessential longread about a wordless Brooklyn-Manhattan Q train ridewhere boy and girl locked eyes, averted eyes, buried themselves in books "I noticed you never once turned a " and missed their stops. At some point it spins off into glorious fantasy about the ride lasting for 60 silent years, but the reader is never quite sure where that point is. There were Missed Connections that were hilarious or hilariously bad in a Best of Next Door kind of way.
But mostly, you kept reading for those moments of heart-clutching "awwww," like this post from an old professor seeking a woman he lost touch with after they met in Grand Central Station and had a night of passion, at Thanksgiving But now? Well, in MarchCraigslist shuttered a different section, Personalsfearing it could be liable under a law deed to combat sex trafficking, but that critics called an overly-broad attack on online speech.
Personals users didn't simply move on to other advanced forms of online dating, however.
No, they moved their en masse to — you guessed it — Missed Connections. This doesn't seem to be sanctioned by Craigslist, which takes down many of the dating after reviewing them.
Yet still they keep flooding in. Result: Missed Connections is now a shadow of its former self.
Browse it today you can drop in on all regional U. Missed Connections, from Albany to Yubaand you'll see the vast majority are actually personals. You're reading commercials, not heartfelt stories of maybe-love-at-first-sight.
Most are pretty sleazy; none are what you'd call "must read. But their quality is distinctly dimmer than in the section's heyday. Craigslist itself, which once highlighted Missed Connections in its Best of Craigslist section, seems to agree.
Since the Personals migration, the site has awarded a Best Of trophy to exactly one Missed Connection, and that one wasn't exactly a romance-laden moment. It was a hilarious and thoroughly well-deserved unloading on a racist " prick on the patio at Wild Wings. I've been trawling Missed Connections all across America for days in preparation for this article, and most were utterly unmemorable and annoyingly brief, a few sentences long on average.
I can recall precisely two: One where some teen had started talking to some cutie about social media, boasted that he was big on TikTok, but forgot to give his handle. And another where a driver sought "the woman in the grey Prius who was twirling her hair. It's hard to imagine a meet-cute while driving. Today's Missed Connection-makers break some fundamental rules of a good Missed Connection. You have to write long, and be funny and charming with it. The best stories often take place on or around public transit for a reason; do crushes on people through car windows really count?
Plus, and I cannot stress this enough, it's really necessary to include a description of yourself. Most now do not.
What, you think that hottie is just automatically going to remember you out of the hundreds of people they encounter every day? In short, the art of Missed Connections is slowly dying.
And that's a bigger deal than you might think. Because here's the thing: We all have these moments, even the fully cuffed. They are some of life's most affirming and all-too-rare moments, all the more so for being unrequited. We should celebrate them, and we should support a public archive that celebrates them.
They don't have to actually mean anything romantic. The only person I know who ever responded to a Missed Connections ad, inis my friend Roxane in Colorado. She turned out to have zero chemistry with the guy in question once drinks were involved. Still, she found the experience incredibly flattering.
Missed connection moments have inspired a lot of art over the years, largely because it involves the brain at its most imaginative. You see a cute face, and suddenly you're constructing a fantasy.
The oldest Missed Connections art I've come across, one that's haunted my head for years, is in Orson Welles' all-time classic Citizen Kane Kane, the media mogul, has died, "Rosebud" the last word on his lips. His old assistant Mr. Bernstein offers the theory that it was the name of a woman Kane met briefly in his early days.
The reporter interviewing him is skeptical, but wiser, older Bernstein gives him the You take me. One day, back inI was crossing over to Jersey on a ferry and as we pulled out, there was another ferry pulling in. And on it, there was a girl waiting to get off. A white dress she had on, and she was carrying a white parasol.
I only saw her for one second and she didn't see me at all — but I'll bet a month hasn't gone by since that I haven't thought of that girl. The reason this scene is so haunting isn't its romantic viability. As I'm sure wise old Bernstein knows, you need more than a second to evaluate a date; who knows if they would have had chemistry.
It's that year: The guy has spent five decades —not every day, which would be creepy, but every month, which is poignant — thinking of a face that was branded on his brain in his youth. That says something about time, memory, and the eternally uncontrollable human heart. Somewhere on that fictional ferry inwe may p, some old lady was thinking longingly and unrealistically about a missed connection inwondering if the grass would have been greener with him than it had been with her husband.
And on and on, back through time in half-century jumps, until the first time a primate recalled a lovely face from a tribe that was just passing through their part of the savannah, and wished they had some sort of language with which to express nostalgic regret.
These days we have the language of music, of course, which has been inspired by a Missed Connection or two. The Beatles captured the concept well in with "I've Just Seen a Face," but the one most people know these days is the deceptively schmaltzy hit by British singer James Blunt, "You're Beautiful. Blunt's lyrics almost read like a Missed Connection ad: "She smiled at me on the subway, she was with another man I saw your face in a crowded place and I don't know what to do And I don't think that I'll see her again, but we shared a moment that will last 'til the end.
And it was, like, cosmicman. Unlike the Beatles, Blunt was inspired by a real-life incident, and it's only slightly deflating to learn that the woman with another man on the subway was his ex. The important thing is that he approached it like a Missed Connection.
Classic Craigslist. You don't have to write an international hit song about it, but you also don't have to deny that you've had at least one of these eye-catching, heart-racing moments in public at some point in your life. So when they happen, instead of filing it away for your faulty memory to recall, why not take a moment to celebrate it, anonymously, on the internet?
Chances are you won't actually hear back from the person in question, and even if you do, nothing will come of it. Missed Connections is all about understanding that your quest is probably doomed.
But you just might make someone feel a little bit famous. And at the very least, you'll be helping to keep the spark of one of the online world's quirkiest, most deeply human archives alive. Just a Jim looking for his Pam: The fictional couples dominating dating app bios.
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