Missed Connection

A missed connection is a type of personal advertisement which arises after two people meet but are too shy or otherwise unable to exchange contact details. The ‘Missed Connections’ section of Craigslist gets thousands of ads of this type every month for cities such as New York and San Francisco.

The feature was started by Jim Buckmaster, Craigslist’s CEO, after he noticed a common type of posting in their personal ads, which he characterised as ‘you-smiled-at-me-on-the-subway-platform.’ He sees the format as addressing a common human need and being ideal for romantic comedy, ‘Missed Connections give people that second chance … They represent persistence in the face of long odds, which definitely adds to their artistic appeal.’

Other major cities have similar columns in Craigslist and their own local media. For example, London’s ‘Metro’ newspaper has a ‘Rush-hour Crush’ column for commuters who exchange glances but nothing more. Many connections are reestablished and couples have become married in this way, such as ‘tall rugby player’ and ‘beautiful lady in the red dress with long brown curly hair.’ In the Pacific NW, the most common location was on the bus. In the Pacific SW, it was the gym. In the North East, it was the subway and train. In the Midwest, it was the supermarket. In Texas and the Gulf, it was Walmart.

The online format for this on Craigslist scrolls so that postings disappear after 45 days. This gives a second possibility of a poignant loss as the posting might not be seen in time to reunite the couple. Mobile phone apps such as Grindr have been created which facilitate hook-ups between strangers immediately. (However, these require location data which may be a security concern.)

The topic has been used as a theme by artists and authors. The New York Transit Museum held a special exhibition of such work on Valentine’s Day of 2011. Sophie Blackall’s ‘Missed Connections: Love, Lost and Found’ was featured. One of her favorites was: ‘We Shared a Bear Suit at an Apartment Party’ — ‘I thought that was brilliant. How could you share a bear suit with somebody and not exchange any details? It seemed like such an intimate thing to do.’

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