Creating intentional Missed Connections?

Missed Connections are rife with shoulda-coulda-woulda after the fact justifications. But what if you set out to create an intentional “Missed Connection,” to deliberately meet someone?

People do so all the time, I suppose – going to bars, clubs, even gyms, hoping to hook up. In contrast, I think of as a “true” Missed Connection as occurring when one generally isn’t setting out with the mindset to meet – it’s more of an afterthought.

Venues like bars implicitly or explicitly encourage social interaction (even if it’s grinding dance moves rather than sustained conversation). People frequenting clubs tacitly make themselves available to prospective partners. As such, it’s less of a leap to approach someone to chat them up.

While commuting, running errands, or fulfilling the other mundane tasks of daily life affords the possibility of serendipitous meetings, the context is different. People can’t count on a general assumption of approachability. Yes, lots of people are friendly and willing to strike up a conversation with a stranger, but I suspect there is a line of deliberate flirtation that most people aren’t willing to cross.

A recent (October 1, 2010) Missed Connection tries to turn this rule upside down by encouraging men to reach out to her if they see her. (This post is now longer up, so I don’t have a screen shot – just the text.)

tomorrow – don’t miss me – w4m (downtown. queen w. & college) 35yr

I have errands to run tomorrow afternoon around Queen and Spadina and then off to see a friend near College & Ossington. I’ll be wearing jeans, a cropped black leather jacket, likely a grey scarf (a sort of uniform for me) and piercing green eyes. I’m in a state of mind that I’m up for change and excitement. Don’t miss the opportunity to connect with me, I’m feeling restless and adventurous!

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen someone broadcasting their attempt to meet people on Missed Connections, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. In a way, it’s even stranger than a typical Missed Connection. Instead of going out and actively interacting with people she encounters, this woman offers a cat-and-mouse game – catch me if you can!

This writer manages to be even more passive than the after-the-fact MC writers – it puts the onus on interested men to search for me. Plus, isn’t it kind of an invitation for stalkers? What kind of people regularly read Missed Connections, anyway? (Oh, right… people like me. But probably some big creepers, too. Watch out!)

Speaking of creeping, I recently read about the site Ratio Finder on Gizmodo. The site aggregates Foursquare login data, and visually represents the gender ratios at different locations. Places with high proportions of either men or women are considered to be great “pick up spots” According to Gizmodo, male Foursquare users in New York and San Francisco (the two cities for which Ratio Finder collects data) tend to check in most at bars and clubs. Their female counterparts publicize going to cafes, parks, and markets. There are a lot of (largely heterosexual) assumptions about dating markets behind Ratio Finder (for more discussion of the effects of gender ratio imbalances on dating, see this New York Times article on the  “shortage” of men at many universities).

How does this relate to Missed Connections? For those seeking to deliberately meet (social media-using) ladies and gents, you can now conveniently plan your outings accordingly to increase the chances of finding a large pool of the desired gender! Still, I’d like to see a lady-hunting dude come up with a good reason for being at Sephora New York, which currently has the fourth highest female:male ratio in NY. If this site becomes popular, the female writer of the post, above, wouldn’t have to announce her itinerary – she could just make sure to shop in places where lots of men tend to go.

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily take away the problem of trying to connect with desirable strangers, but hey, at least you’ve got more chances in one handy spot to step up to the plate, strike out, and try again, without a lot of competition. Toronto singles and Missed Connections users will just have to wait, though – or one of you could figure out your own algorithms to (further) exploit users’ Foursquare (and perhaps Facebook Places) info in our very own city. I wish you luck. At very least, it might result in a reduction of these deliberate, yet passive, attempts at intentional Missed Connections.

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