reading the missed connections

Last week I stumbled across a series of illustrations inspired by craigslist Missed Connections:

They’re by artist Sophie Blackwell, and all are selected from the New York City craigslist. I love how her prints capture the near-universal experience of unrequited love and secret crushes, but also our uniquely contemporary ability to broadcast those affections to a larger audience. It’s the adult equivalent of the middle school trick where you tell a friend to ask your crush’s best friend if he also has a crush on you. If no news comes back, you’ve saved yourself the embarrassment of rejection, but, hey, at least you gave it a shot.

When I worked as a barista at a popular coffeeshop in Washington, DC, I sometimes read the Missed Connections. My coworkers (who were an admittedly attractive and charming group) were frequent subjects of unspoken affection. But that was years ago, and in the intervening time, I’d kind of forgotten about that corner of craigslist. So I opened the Vancouver page to see what kind of stories I might find there.

Blackwell’s world is fully of mostly-young, mostly-white people who read Bukowski on the subway and have funky, furry hats and cool tattoos. Their affections are quirky and intelligent, and they write with the dreamy tone of the truly smitten. Their desires are wholesome and decidedly un-creepy. They want to buy someone a drink or say “thanks for smiling at me” or express a public regret for not saying hi. But a search of Vancouver’s missed connections turns up a more complex, slightly darker world. Continue reading