Check all that apply.

I re-stumbled upon Katie Turner‘s terrific Boyfriend Criteria print today. It reminded me of Missed Connections because very often, posts do seem like checklists of what the writers consider to be attractive… and things like glasses, sense of humour, reading, and dog ownership rank highly on my own list. I’ll be honest: I often go ‘read’ in the park to watch the cute dogs (you should have seen Winston the chocolate labradoodle puppy today!). If I had more immediate access to an adorable dog via a significant other… well, that would be a selling point, even if it’s named Chewbacca instead of Corduroy. I digress…

In reading Missed Connections, it’s hard not to think about how individuals can be summed up into tidy little categories. They’re based on appearance – skin/hair/eye colour, clothing, and the other accoutrements of daily life that we carry with us and give clues to who we are. In reading Missed Connections posts, at least, it seems like everyone can be summed up in a few relatively interchangeable descriptors out of a standard list.

So, while we know almost nothing about the guy described below, and neither does the author – since their interaction was limited to a smile – his appearance as a cute “glasses-type” is enough to meet one of the writer’s own apparent “boyfriend criteria.” Maybe she noticed more about him, but even if so, it’s not included, and she’s unlikely to get her wish for more than a smile.

As much as everyone hopes to find the perfect match, it’s probably a bit naive to approach meeting people with a checklist of visible characteristics. I’m not sure, but I wonder if Missed Connections establish and reproduce “acceptable” standards of attractive characteristics. As much as there are really all sorts of posts – from romantic & cute to overtly creepy – the recurrent types of descriptions make the hundreds of people written about on Missed Connections each day in Toronto indistinguishable from one another. It’s unlikely that, for example, one brown-haired girl is going to be able to spot the post about her out of all the other messages about brunette. But when it comes down to it, don’t we want to feel there’s something a bit more obviously unique about us? I’m certain there is, but the conventions of Missed Connections don’t really force writers to highlight just what is so special about the person they’re writing about. I have a hunch that Missed Connections aren’t really about the subject of the posts so much as about the writers themselves – although the writers generally don’t describe themselves in greater depth than a checklist, either.

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