Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=198777
Story Retrieval Date: 6/19/2013 3:29:41 PM CST
Finding it hard to make time for dating? Still looking for that “special
someone”? Well, put down the newspaper and sit up straight. Your date could be
on your next train ride.
A feature of Redeye’s app, Missed Connections, gives CTA riders a second chance at sparking a romance with fellow commuters. Passengers can post public messages to the Redeye app from their phone in hopes of connecting with someone they spotted earlier on the CTA.
“Cinderella lost her shoe,” wrote one Purple Line passenger in January. “But a handsome blond prince charming picked it up for her. I’d like to thank you for being a gentleman in person, maybe over a cocktail?”
A northbound bus rider posted in December, “You were waiting for the bus. I think we work in the same building. Wish I stayed and spoke to you longer. You mentioned wanting to get a drink!”
Riders are able to post their sex, the sex of the person they seek, the CTA train line or bus number they rode, and a message to the object of their affection.
“People are intrigued by the idea that maybe the person they are looking for will see the post and contact them,” said Dana Kavan, the deputy digital editor at Redeye. “It’s not direct, but it’s very public.”
Redeye has been using the Missed Connections feature on its app since May, and within the last few months added the forum to its website. Kavan said Redeye doesn’t have exact numbers on how much site traffic has benefited by Missed Connections but believes the feature gives passengers added incentive to visit Redeye.
But can Missed Connections really create possible relationships, or is it a way for shy commuters to express interest without fear of rejection?
“We haven’t heard of any people getting together from Missed Connections,” Kavan said of the feature. “I’m sure the majority of people don’t get replies. But we know other sites definitely have success stories.”
The Chicago Reader has been publishing I Saw You ads, which are similar to Missed Connections, for more than 20 years and has seen many relationships develop from the feature.
“We have absolutely seen people connect through our I Saw Yous,” said Danette Chavez, the classifieds representative for the Chicago Reader. “One of our past staff writers met his wife through I Saw You.”
If it seems far-fetched that the “handsome blond prince” or the northbound bus rider who “mentioned wanting to get a drink” will also check Missed Connections and pursue a relationship with the poster, one expert said there are a couple of reasons some people feel more comfortable posting a Missed Connection.
“First, no one can see you get rejected,” said Nicole Ellison, a communications professor at Michigan State University. “Although the post is public, the end result isn’t. Second, it’s safer to be in front of a computer than face-to-face with another person. Research shows people are more honest, candid and feel more comfortable speaking their mind online.”
But as with any public forum, there are vulgar and rude Missed Connection posts on Redeye that deviate from the intended purpose of the site, making it seem more like the personals on Craigslist.
“Flying in. Into risky [expletive],” one December poster said. “I want to [expletive] either in the airport or on the blue line. Hit me up :).”
And some posts aren’t necessarily rude, but are clearly not intended to make a real connection.
“To the girl in the pants I dig your pants. Where did you get them? Geh,” wrote a blue line passenger.
Kavon said she and the Redeye web developers try not to edit the Missed Connection posts, but will consider removing a post that is threatening or overtly inappropriate.
But a surprising majority of Redeye’s Missed Connection posts seem to be legitimate attempts at finding love.
Many posts sound similar to Kristin B, who was looking for the “Blond
sitting in the seat closest to the door on the red line around 8:30.”
“I never did hear from the person I originally posted the ad about,” Kristin wrote in an email. “I did, however, get a response from someone else who was not the right guy.”